Azusa Pacific 0
NAIA Region II Playoffs
LA MIRADA, Calif. -- First-round exits aren't something that Azusa Pacific is used to as the Cougars have advanced to the NAIA regional championship game every year since 1995.
However, Biola’s Adrianna Dixon scored the game’s only goal in the 51st minute, and the Eagle defense spearheaded by All-GSAC GK Hillary Dunham made it stand as No. 25-ranked Biola knocked off No. 6 Azusa Pacific, 1-0, in the opening round of the NAIA Region II Playoffs.
With the win, Biola continues its miracle run into and now through the playoffs. The Eagles, who 2 weeks ago began their run into the playoffs with 3 consecutive wins over teams ahead of them with a near-identical 1-0 win over the Cougars, advance to the semifinals with their first-ever playoff win.
The Eagles will travel to Riverside this Saturday to face No. 10 California Baptist in a re-match of last week’s 1-0 Biola win that clinched a playoff berth for the Eagles.
The Cougars, meanwhile, will more than likely earn an at-large berth into the 20-team NAIA National Tournament field by virtue of their No. 6 national ranking and will have the next 2 weeks to rest, get healthy and prepare.
The game was scoreless through the first half, and although Biola out-shot the Cougars, 6-2, the play was even. However, in the 51st minute, Dixon broke free, created space and carried the ball into and then across the box. She then stopped and shot a laser towards the far post, leaving Cougar GK Melissa Strother with no chance.
Azusa Pacific, which was playing without 4 significant players, all out with injury, pressed forward but was never able to find the equalizer. The Cougars best chance of the game actually came in the 17th minute when Erin Arbizu’s shot slipped through Dunham’s hands but was cleared off the line by a Biola defender.
Strother made 8 saves. Dunham collected 6 to preserve the shutout.
The loss is Azusa Pacific’s third in its past 5 games and first regional tournament loss in any game other than the championship since 1995. Azusa Pacific is now 12-3-3 overall. Biola improves to 13-4-1.