Azusa Pacific 2
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. -- This one may hurt a little longer than expected, and rightfully so as Azusa Pacific was less than 17 minutes away from earning a spot in its sixth straight semifinal only to see it all be erased in stunning fashion.
William Jewell erased a 2-goal deficit, rallied with a pair of goals in the final 17 minutes and benefited from 3 Cougar goals that were disallowed to knock of the third-seeded Cougars, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of the 20th Annual NAIA Women’s Soccer National Tournament.
“In my entire playing and coaching career, I never experienced something like what happened tonight,” said a distraught Azusa Pacific head coach Jason Surrell. “I’ve never had the referees take a game away from my team. The girls played a great game tonight. They deserved to win and were definitely the better team. They did not deserve what happened.”
The Cougars, who were already the only team to advance to 5 straight NAIA semifinals, were attempting to add more to the streak, and for 73 minutes it appeared as if the streak would be extended.
Senior Stephanie Lemburg appeared to have given the Cougars a 1-0 lead just 20 minutes in when her chested ball went into the net but was waved off by the referee, who called a hand ball.
Nevertheless, the Cougars didn’t let down, and of all people, midfielder Stephanie Weber answered with her first goal of the season in the 40th minute when she found herself on the back end of a Shannon Coe cross with nothing but an empty net to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead they carried into the intermission.
Then, after Erin Arbizu scored her fourth goal of the season just 18 seconds into the second half on a nice combination play from Megan Cardin and Jourdan Whistler, the streak looked safe in hand.
However, it took the Cardinals less than 20 seconds to respond, suddenly swinging the momentum in their favor. Kristin Neher scored the first of her 3 goals to cut the deficit in half.
The next 27 minutes were played somewhat evenly with both teams generating a few dangerous chances. In the 58th minute of a 2-1 game, William Jewel was awarded a penalty kick, and Cougar GK Melissa Strother promptly rose to the occasion with what at the time seemed to be a game-winning save.
Four minutes later, the Cougars had their second goal waved off by the first of 2 questionable offside calls. With a loose ball scrum in front of the goal mouth, junior Kelly Goudge punched home what seemed to be her first career goal only to have it waved off with an offside call, despite a Cardinal defender standing in the goal mouth.
In the 74th minute, Neher found the equalizer, and then she found the game-winner to complete her hat-trick with just 1:14 left in the game.
Again, with just seconds remaining, the Cougars appeared to get the equalizer that would have forced overtime. Weber broke loose down the left side for a through ball, picked it up and beat the keeper, but again the Cougars’ were flagged for an offside and the goal was not allowed.
Azusa Pacific out-shot William Jewell, 24-12, including 15-2 in the first half. Strother made 5 saves, and the Cougars were flagged for 6 offsides.
With the loss, Azusa Pacific falls to 13-4-3. William Jewell improves to 21-0-1 and advances to its first-ever semifinal in its first-ever tournament appearance.