Azusa Pacific 1
Alliant International 0
AZUSA, Calif. -- Hit a crossbar here. Hit a crossbar there. Smack a post here. Smack a post there. For more than 100 minutes, Azusa Pacific was hammering every part of Alliant International’s goal except the most important part—the net.
All afternoon, the NAIA’s No. 2-ranked Cougars were peppering the goal with shots from all angles but none found the net, until junior All-American Erin Arbizu cleaned up a loose ball and scooted it into the net for a golden goal and a 1-0 Azusa Pacific over the visiting Mountain Lions.
Less than 2 minutes into overtime, the Cougars were awarded their 12th corner kick of the game. As Megan Cardin’s service came into the box, freshman Ellen Clark’s header was deflected off the crossbar by AIU GK Brittany Zeiglar. A melee in front of the net ensued as the ball fell to the ground, and Arbizu was right there to tuck the ball into the net for the game-winner.
The skirmish in front of the net was the final of several skirmishes in front of the Alliant International net in the final 30 minutes of the game. The Cougars brought relentless attack after relentless attack, but a solid Mountain Lion defense, spearheaded by Zeigler, was there to thwart away every one.
The Cougars outshot the Mountain Lions, 20-1, including 11-1 in the second half and 5-0 in overtime. For most of the final 60 minutes, the ball stayed in the Cougars’ attacking third of the field.
Azusa Pacific all but one of its 12 corner kicks in the second half. The only one not taken in the second half was the game-winner. Alliant had no corner kicks. Zeigler finished with 8 saves, while Cougar GK Melissa Strother was never tested in padding her school-record career shutout total and running it to 32.
The shutout is the Cougars’ fourth consecutive goose-egg to start the season. It is also the most consecutive shutouts since the 2001 squad recorded 9 straight.