DAY 27 (Aug. 27): The Lancer Rivalry Renewed
Up until a year ago Azusa Pacific vs. California Baptist was developing into one of the best college rivalries on the West Coast. That rivalry was put on hold as California Baptist initiated its NCAA Div. II membership transition a year earlier than the Cougars. But with both schools playing in the Pacific West Conference in 2012, that once budding rivalry will have a chance to develop into what everyone saw it becoming: the new rivalry for Azusa Pacific athletics.
While Azusa Pacific was in the midst of its unprecedented run of Director’s Cups, California Baptist was steadily ascending up the national stage. Over the final three years in the NAIA, the Lancers finished seventh, sixth, and fifth in the final Director’s Cup standings. In that run towards the top CBU and Azusa Pacific had their fair share of run-ins.
During the Cougars’ championship run in women’s basketball during the 2010-11 season the Lancers were the biggest thorn in the Cougars’ side. CBU posted a 61-60 upset win over the No. 8 ranked Cougars on Jan. 4, before defeating Azusa Pacific again in the championship match of the Golden State Athletic Conference tournament. The Cougars, however, got the last laugh, taking home the program’s first banner at the NAIA national championship tournament.
In 2010 the CBU women’s soccer team ended its 23 game skid against the Cougars, winning in overtime to deal the Cougars their first loss of the season. Azusa Pacific did enact revenge that same year, posting a 3-0 win over CBU in the semifinals of the GSAC tournament, and another 3-0 defeat in the NAIA quarterfinals.
That same season the Lancers’ men’s soccer team defeated Azusa Pacific for the first time in over a decade, notching its first winning season in conference play, while knocking the Cougars out of first place in the GSAC standings. But just as the women’s team did, the men avenged the loss, defeating CBU in the GSAC tournament.
During the 2007-08 season of men’s basketball Azusa Pacific narrowly edged out the Lancers in a pair of regular season games, winning by a combined five points, including a four-point overtime victory at home. But when the two teams met in the GSAC tournament the Lancers played spoiler, knocking off the 12th ranked Cougars in a grueling 82-80 contest at Concordia.
The Cougar baseball program may leave with the most conference titles in GSAC history, but it was the Lancer baseball team that took home back-to-back crowns in the school’s final two years in the conference. The historical rise for California Baptist athletics hit an all-time last year.
The Lancers dominated Pacific West play, earning the Commissioner’s Cup as the conference’s top athletics program in its first year of competition. California Baptist also had an impressive showing nationally, taking home six National Christian College Athletics Association championships to earn the NCCAA Presidential Award. The Lancers won championships in men’s and women’s soccer, men’s golf, volleyball, baseball and softball.
So while that other Bible college in Los Angeles County remains to be the Cougars’ official rival, it seems more legitimate to call the Lancers the Cougars’ most formidable local foe. How the next chapter in the rivalry turns out will be seen in Azusa Pacific’s first season of PacWest play, with the first matchup being a women’s volleyball contest at the Felix Event Center on Sept. 11.