El Cajon, Calif.
Azusa Pacific 5, Christian Heritage 1
Coming into this week, Azusa Pacific knew it needed a pair of wins to wrap up its third straight GSAC championship. And even for the casual observer, it was obvious that getting a pair of wins wouldn’t be too difficult, especially since the Cougars had 2 teams (The Master’s and Christian Heritage) that were in the bottom third of the GSAC standings.
Nevertheless, the game must be played, so the NAIA’s No. 4-ranked Azusa Pacific did its thing defeating The Master’s, 7-0, Tuesday and rolling to an easy 5-1 win at Christian Heritage Saturday to clinch its third straight GSAC championship, the top seed and a first round bye in the upcoming NAIA Region II Playoffs.
As has been the case for most of the season, sophomore Erin Arbizu got the Cougars’ offense rolling. She scored with just 8 minutes remaining in the first half and promptly opened the floodgates as the Cougars scored 3 goals in 5 minutes to take a 3-0 lead into the locker room.
After sophomore All-GSAC Stephanie Bays struck in the 38th minute for a 2-0 lead, Arbizu found the net again in the 42nd minute to give the Cougars a comfortable cushion.
Just 6 minutes into the second half, Christian Heritage struck to cut into the deficit, 3-1, but the Cougar defense, which allowed just 2 shots all day, clamped down, and the offense woke back up.
Sophomore Marilyn Montgomery pushed the margin back to 3 with a goal in the 66th minute, and Bays finished the scoring 10 minutes later. The Cougars finished the day with 34 shots, 18 of them on goal.
The Cougars will now sit and watch as Concordia/Notre Dame de Namur and Biola/Cal Baptist battle it out this week in the opening round of the Region II Playoffs. The Cougars host the lowest remaining seed, which could be any team other than Cal Baptist, Saturday at 1 p.m. in the semifinals.
Azusa Pacific won its fourth conference title in the past 5 years, running its GSAC record to 38-2-1 in that span. Head coach Jason Surrell, the 2000 and 2001 GSAC Coach of the Year is 25-1-1 in GSAC play in his 2 seasons at the helm.
With the win, the Cougars conclude the regular season at 12-2, 9-1 GSAC. Christian Heritage drops to 3-16, 0-10.