FRESNO, Calif. – Junior transfer Michelle Lutz scored 5 goals and Ivonne Garcia added 4 more as Azusa Pacific achieved a season goal in its opening week of the 2010 season – doubling its win total of the program’s inaugural 2009 campaign.
The Cougars split today’s doubleheader in Fresno, falling to host Fresno Pacific, 10-9, in the first game before coming back to down Cal State Monterey Bay, 9-8, later in the day in games played at Sunnyside High School. Combined with yesterday’s 9-7 victory over Fresno Pacific, the Cougars are 2-1 on the young season, already a vast improvement over last year’s 1-15 slate.
In today’s opening contest, the Cougars never led though they did tie the Sunbirds 4 times, the last coming on Garcia’s second goal of the contest to knot the score at 5-5 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter. However, FPU came right to back to notch a g-ahead goal with a second left in the frame to assume a 6-5 advantage. The Sunbirds pushed their cushion to as much as 3 twice in the fourth quarter but each time Garcia reeled in Fresno Pacific with goals, that last coming with 1:15 remaining to get the Cougars to within 2 at 10-8.
Junior Melissa McKown added another goal with 20 seconds left pull Azusa Pacific to within one, but the Cougars ran out of time and suffered their first setback of the season.
The 2 teams each fired 17 shots. Sunbird freshman keeper Dani Mortimer stopped 11 shots while Cougar goalies Chelsea Ching and Shannon Oliphant combined for 6 saves, 3 by each keeper.
Against Cal State Monterey Bay, the Cougars fell behind 2-0 in the opening 3 minutes of play but then scored 8 of the contest’s next 12 goals, including back-to-back tallies by freshman Jennifer Horchler and junior Ashley Elven to put Azusa Pacific up 8-6 with 7:05 left in the game.
After the Otters cut the Cougar lead in half, veteran Jannelle Stacey fired what proved to be the game-winning goal, her fourth score of the season, to put Azusa Pacific up 9-7 with just over 6 minutes left. CSUMB registered another goal, but Azusa Pacific held the Otters at bay over the final 2 minutes to preserve the victory.
The Cougars used a 3-1 second quarter in which Lutz scored twice to take control of the game, assuming a 6-4 lead at halftime.
Cal State Monterey Bay out-shot Azusa Pacific, 17-14.
The Otters, which later in the day defeated Fresno Pacific, is now 1-1, while Fresno Pacific is 1-2.
Azusa Pacific returns to the pool Friday (Feb. 29), in Riverside when it opens play in the 2-day California Baptist Invitational, debuting against Cal State Northridge at 10:30 a.m.