GLENDORA, Calif. -- Azusa Pacific used a fast start in a bid to give its six graduating seniors a victory in their regular-season sendoff, but No. 19-ranked San Diego State overcame a 4-2 deficit with five consecutive goals and seven of the final eight scores for a 9-5 win that clinched the inaugural Golden Coast Conference for the Aztecs.
Junior Taylor Whitney scored first-quarter goals just 40 seconds apart, scoring a six-on-five goal with 4:16 to play in the first quarter before adding another with 3:36 left to give Azusa Pacific an early 3-1 lead. After San Diego State quickly capitalized on its first six-on-five chance, senior Megan Minekime delivered a late first-quarter goal to push the lead to 4-2 heading into the second quarter.
The lead held steady at 4-2 for the first 2:45 of the second quarter, and it wasn’t until less than three minutes remained in the second quarter that San Diego State tied the game at 4-4. Less than a minute later, the Aztecs were in front for good, as Nikole Ferrari scored her first of two goals to make it a 5-4 game with 1:48 left in the second quarter.
With 20 seconds left in the second quarter, a shot from senior Alyssa Hess was tipped by SDSU goalie Rachel Mitchell off the left post, keeping the Cougars off the scoreboard for the second quarter and well into the third. Although Mitchell was keeping Azusa Pacific scoreless, Cougar goalie Katie Margot made several instinctive one-handed saves that kept her team within striking distance.
Margot stopped a last-second shot with five seconds left in the second quarter, and she added two third-quarter saves before stopping four shots in the fourth quarter. After the Aztecs scored five straight goals in the second and third quarters, Hess snapped Azusa Pacific’s scoring drought with 1:27 left in the third, pulling the Cougars within 7-5 heading into the final quarter.
After Margot picked up a save on the Aztecs’ opening possession of the fourth quarter, the Cougars gave up a six-on-five goal the very next SDSU possession, making it 8-5, and the next trip down the pool netted another Aztec goal with 6:10 left for the final 9-5 margin.
Margot finished with eight saves, while Mitchell matched her with eight stops, including four in her second-quarter shutout.
Azusa Pacific concludes the regular season with a 15-19 overall record and finishes sixth in the inaugural GCC campaign with a 1-5 mark. San Diego State, which has one regular-season matchup remaining, completes its conference championship campaign with a perfect 6-0 GCC record while improving to 22-10 overall.
Both teams will advance to next week’s GCC Tournament, which takes place April 24-26 at Loyola Marymount.