AZUSA, Calif. -- Just last week, Azusa Pacific took until the last minute of regulation and overtime to score both its goals. In Monday’s 4-0 win over Holy Names, it barely took a minute for senior midfielder Emily Wood to bury the Cougars’ first goal into the back of the net.
“We really focused on coming out strong in the first five minutes,” Wood said. “We started with high pressure, and we got it done within a couple of minutes.”
Wood’s goal just 80 seconds into the game proved to be the game-winner, but Azusa Pacific added three more for the final four-goal margin, including another early goal from Wood in the eighth minute. Sophomore midfielder Kendra Trifonovitch scored midway through the opening half to push the lead to 3-0, and Cougar goalkeepers Michelle Wieland and Brandi Wegerle combined for Azusa Pacific’s fifth shutout in six victories this year.
“The early goal meant our start was good, we continued to put pressure on them and got a couple more,” Cougar head coach Jason Surrell said. “Anytime you can have three goals in the first half you have to feel pretty good about your performance.”
Senior forward Heidi Witschi, who scored last week’s tying goal against Hawaii Pacific with 37 seconds in regulation before scoring the improbable game-winner with just a second showing on the clock in double-overtime, added her third goal in the past two games to round out the scoring.
The victory gives Azusa Pacific its first three-game winning streak of the year, and the Cougars improve to 5-2 in Pacific West Conference play while moving over .500 overall for the first time this season at 6-5. Azusa Pacific is one of eight teams at the top of the 14-team PacWest standings with only one or two conference defeats this year.
Holy Names, which remains winless in PacWest play (0-8) and falls to 1-10 overall with Monday’s loss, took the opening kickoff but couldn’t get the ball out of its own half in those first 80 seconds, and a Cougar attack up the left side forced goalkeeper Tiana Miyashiro into a hurried clearance. It ended up at the feet of Wood, who lifted it over a retreating Miyashiro from 21 yards out to provide an early 1-0 lead.
When Holy Names wasn’t able to clear a corner kick at the seven-minute mark, the opportunistic Cougars took advantage. Lynsey Browne fired an initial shot that deflected off a defender, and Wood volleyed the rebound right back through the defense and past the arms of Miyashiro inside the right post from 20 yards away.
“For this game, I was really focused on taking more shots, because I felt like I didn’t take as many shots as I wanted to last game,” Wood said. “My approach today was really shot-oriented.”
Trifonovitch’s goal, a left-footed strike from 13 yards away, was set up by freshman Haley Fisher, whose nifty touch around a Holy Names defender at the top left corner of the box gave her an open passing lane to Trifonovitch, who drilled a low shot to the far post for her second goal of the year. On Witschi’s goal, senior forward Natalie Sun’s cross from the right side sailed just over Fisher at the near post, finding the feet of Witschi, who stood unmarked at the back post. Witschi controlled the cross and fired a shot past the goalkeeper, where it was slowed by a defender but still had enough momentum to roll across the goal line and push the lead to 4-0.
“I thought we possessed the ball well and still created chances,” said Surrell, who was able to get every player in uniform into the contest including three players who saw their first live game action of the season. “From one to 26, we have a lot of good players, and in home games we get to use all of them.”
Wieland faced only two shots in her 61 minutes of action, and Wegerle stopped the first shot she faced in her first collegiate game action. Azusa Pacific finished the game with a 21-6 advantage in total shots, and the Cougars took seven corner kicks, including one that led to the extended attack which ended in the Trifonovitch goal.
Azusa Pacific has two more home games this week, taking on Chaminade on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. before wrapping up the four-game homestand with a 3:30 p.m. clash with BYU Hawaii this Saturday afternoon.