KISSIMMEE, Fla.-- If there’s been a thorn in the Azusa Pacific women’s soccer team’s proverbial side, it’s been Point Loma. The Sea Lions handed the Cougars their lone Pacific West Conference loss of the season, and followed it up with a frustrating 2-0 victory in the West Region final to improve to improve to 4-1-2 against Azusa Pacific in the past three seasons.
And while Friday’s National Christian College Athletics Association semifinal was about advancing to the championship match, it didn’t hurt that the Cougars did it against Point Loma, snapping a two-game losing skid to the Sea Lions with a 2-0 victory at the Austin Tindall Soccer Complex in Kissimmee, Fla.
“It’s a great win. We obviously wanted to get to the final, but then there’s the competitor in you that wants to beat a team that’s beaten you twice. They’re a really good team and we knew we had to play our best to have a chance. I certainly felt like the momentum we had from the last time we played them helped. We created a lot of chances, and that let us know we were good enough. We have a lot of respect for their coaches, players and program, and we’re happy to come away with a win,” said head coach Jason Surrell.
“I think in the first half we played really well today. We had chances that we were disappointed we didn’t finish, but we were generating opportunities. In the second half the play sort of wore down because it was so hot. I think both teams struggled a little down the stretch, but I was happy we were able to hold them off and advance.”
Sophomore forward Mayra Alamzan scored once in each half to end Point Loma’s five-match shutout streak, while the Cougar defense registered its 12th shutout of the season against the only team that’s scored twice against Azusa Pacific this season. The Cougars, who had plenty of chances in the West Region final, did a better job of finishing on Friday, getting Almazan’s ninth goal of the year off a cross from Logan Chan in the 42nd minute to give Azusa Pacific its first lead over Point Loma since Nov. 14 of last season.
In the second half Almazan cleaned up a Danielle Ross header off a corner kick, and finished far post from the left side to give Azusa Pacific an insurance goal and become the team’s lone double-figure goal scorer this year.
“Mayra is always dangerous around the goal. She came in and finished. She has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time, and she did it again today,” said Surrell.
The Cougar defense limited the Sea Lions to just one second half shot, which was corralled in by freshman keeper Sarah Kilinkenberg. Azusa Pacific outshot Point Loma 14-3 in the match, and after putting just six of 17 shots on goal in its 2-0 loss on Nov. 20, placed 11 shots on target against the stout Sea Lion defense.
Azusa Pacific had early chances to snap the Sea Lions’ shutout streak against the Cougars, beginning with a three-shot sequence where PLNU turned away two shots before keeper Ariel Oriarte wrangled in Allyn Brown’s look from near the penalty area in the 20th.
Later in the half it was Point Loma knocking when it sent in a free from 10 yards beyond the box and got off two shots, each of which were blocked by Allie Stone, before Klinkenberg secured an errant clear on a bounce to end the Sea Lion threat.
With 25 minutes to play Logan Chan had a great chance to add to the Azusa Pacific lead on a counter, but her shot from the right side sailed right of the post. Each of the Hardy twins had good chances on fast breaks, first when Shannon Hardy beat the defense to get into a 1-v-1 situation before Oriarte came out towards the top of the box and made a sliding stop. Minutes later Amanda Hardy took a through ball from Katelyn Rogers and dribbled alone down the right side. But Oriarte again made a sliding stop to keep the score at 2-0.
Azusa Pacific generated eight second half shots, while Stephanie Lossau put all three of her shots on goal in the match. With the win Azusa Pacific sets up a 1 p.m. (EST) championship match tilt against a Dallas Baptist team that has outscored its opponents 5-0 in tournament play. The Patriots, who haven’t allowed a goal since Nov. 4, defeated Lee 3-0 in pool play, and advanced with a 1-0 win over Grace on Friday.
“In my opinion Dallas Baptist is the best team in the tournament. They played really well against a very good Lee team. They’re big, fast and strong. It’s going to be a battle of wills. It’ll be tough with our fourth game in five days, and I know tonight both teams will be trying get as much rest as possible,” said Surrell.
Saturday’s meeting will be the first between the two NCAA Division II programs. There will not be live stats for the final, but fans can watch online here, or follow the APUCougars Twitter feed for updates.