Hope International 1
AZUSA, Calif. -- Quite possibly, this will go down as just another win in the record books, but for a team that desperately needed to find some sort of identity with its season on the brink, this win could be huge.
Reeling from 2 straight shutout losses and with a slim chance of no postseason, the NAIA’s No. 6-ranked Azusa Pacific defeated Hope International, 5-1, and in the process all but clinched a playoff berth.
With the win, Azusa Pacific has put itself in the driver’s seat for one of 4 available playoff spots. A win Saturday at No. 13 Point Loma would clinch a spot for the Cougars. However, even with a loss, the Cougars will be in if No. 4-ranked Notre Dame de Namur beats CS Monterey Bay in Saturday’s Cal Pac championship game. Earlier this season NDNU defeated CSUMB, 6-0.
In an effort to generate more offense, Azusa Pacific head coach Jason Surrell moved Shannon Coe from the defense to the attack, and she responded with an enormous game. Coe figured in all 5 Azusa Pacific goals, scoring her first-career hat-trick and assisting on the other 2 scores.
The Cougars dominated most of the night, out-shooting the Royals, 28-3, including a 21-1 margin in the second half. Coe put the Cougars on the board in the 17th minute when she buried a service from Erin Arbizu into the right side of the net for a 1-0 Cougar lead.
The Royals responded 13 minutes later when Jeana French headed in Kim Smith’s corner kick to tie the game in the 30th minute. The goal was the Royals’ first-ever goal against Azusa Pacific, which has outscored Hope International, 63-1, all-time.
In the 44th minute, Jordan Whistler put the Cougars in the lead to stay with her second goal of the season off a double assist by Coe and Ellen Clark. Coe sent a cross from the right side to the left, where Clark served it back into the box to Whistler, who put the ball away.
Coe then scored in the 49th and 73rd minutes to complete her hat-trick, scoring the first on assist by Clark and second off a corner kick from Kelly Goudge.
Senior Stephanie Lemburg, playing in her final regular-season home game on Senior Night, rounded out the scoring with her first goal of the season in the 85th minute off an assist by Coe.
With the win, Azusa Pacific improves to 11-2-3 overall, 6-2-1 GSAC. Hope International falls to 3-14, 0-9.