OLATHE, Kan. –- The NAIA’s top-ranked Azusa Pacific scored 3 first-half goals, including 2 in the first 20 minutes, and then dominated play the rest of the way to beat Indiana Wesleyan, 3-0, in the “Sweet 16” of the NAIA Women’s Soccer Championship Tournament.
The Cougars, who are making their eighth straight NAIA Tournament appearance, looked every bit like a playoff veteran team, scoring twice on their first 5 shots and continually pummeling Wildcat keeper Roxanne Rudrick, who by game’s end faced 21 Azusa Pacific shots.
“Our girls were rather calm coming in,” said Cougar coach Jason Surrell who improved to 9-4-1 at the NAIA Tournament. “They just like to go out and play with a sense of purpose.”
After shots by Randi Massro and Brook Williams sailed high in the opening minutes of the game, junior midfielder Jolie Nitta got the Cougars on the board with an unassisted rocket in the tenth minute for her fourth goal of the season.
Eleven minutes later Massro headed a corner kick from Megan Cardin for another Cougar score and her fourth goal of the season as well.
Azusa Pacific settled for a 3-0 halftime lead after freshman Bridget Brotherton tallied her third postseason goal in as many games off a Massro assist in the 36th minute.
The rest of play was up to the Cougar defense which limited Indiana Wesleyan to just 3 shots all night. In the process, sophomore keeper Jill Colfer picked up her 14th shutout of the season, just 1 shy of the school season record, and lowered her goals against average to a microscopic 0.31, the best in program history.
“This is a great start to the tournament,” said Surrell. “We knocked the ball around as well as we have all year. Indiana Wesleyan is rather athletic, but we were just tactically better.”
With the victory Azusa Pacific improves to 17-0-4 on the season while Indiana Wesleyan, which at one point this season had an 18-game unbeaten streak, has its season come to an end at 19-3-1.
Azusa Pacific advances to the Elite Eight for the seventh time in the past 8 years and, after taking off Friday, returns to the pitch against the Simon Fraser/William Jewell winner , Saturday (Nov. 19) at 3 p.m. (PST).