BELMONT, Calif.-- Senior Natalie Sun had two chances to put the Azusa Pacific women’s soccer team ahead in Saturday’s match against Notre Dame de Namur. The first came when the forward was called on to convert a penalty kick after Emily Wood was fouled in the box.
Sun’s attempt, however, was blocked by the Argonaut’s goalie to keep the match knotted at 0-0. 20 minutes later Sun made amends for her earlier miss, knocking in her third game-winning goal of the season late in the 79th minute to lift the Cougars to a 1-0 victory.
Azusa Pacific (10-5), which improved to 9-2 in Pacific West Conference play, won its seventh consecutive contest while keeper Michelle Wieland registered her 32nd career shutout.
“It’s always good to get a win on the road. The second game of a road trip is always hard. There are concerns about energy and having your legs under you. The first half was fairly even, but I think we pulled away and were a lot more dangerous in the second half,” said head coach Jason Surrell.
In the first half the game was tightly contested, with both teams creating limited chances. Azusa Pacific recorded four shots, while the Argonauts (5-9-1; 4-6-1) were held to three. In the second half the Cougars came out strong and doubled Notre Dame de Namur’s shot total, launching 12 attempts while limiting the Argonauts to six.
“I thought in the second half we were much better. We continued to press and controlled the ball for almost the entirety of the first 15-20 minutes,” said Surrell.
Azusa Pacific had its best opportunity of the afternoon when Wood was taken down while driving in the box at the 59 minute mark. The senior, however, was unable to take the shot forcing the Cougars to call on Sun, who had her shot saved by Carrie Turgeon.
Following the PK the Cougars got chances from Haley Fisher, Sun, and Natalie Nick, but couldn’t get the ball past the keeper until the 79th minute. On the scoring play Nick found Sun, who then dribbled from midfield and chipped it over the keeper for her 30th career goal.
The forward, who put five of six shots on target, is now just one score out of 13th place on the program’s all-time list, trailing Lori Holt (’96) who tallied 31 in her four-year career.
After taking the lead the Azusa Pacific defense held NDNU without a shot as Wieland collected her seventh shutout of the year with five saves.
With the win Azusa Pacific holds onto its second place standing in the PacWest race, trailing California Baptist, which recorded a 1-0 defeat of Dominican to improve to 9-1 in PacWest play.
On Tuesday night the Cougars return home, looking to avenge an earlier loss against a Point Loma team that shutout Azusa Pacific in a 2-0 win on Sept. 25. The Sea Lions are 2-0-1 against Azusa Pacific in the teams’ previous three meetings.
“It’s going to be a tough game. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t have much time, but we’ll be ready,” said Surrell.
Point Loma, which sits in a tie for third place in the PacWest, is just 2-13-4 all-time against the Cougars.