After a disappointing 3-0 loss against Hawai’i Pacific Monday night, the Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team bounced back and scored all three of their goals in a six-minute span as the Cougars beat the Vulcans 3-0.
The Cougars worked their way into the offense and gradually increased the speed of their ball movement each time they got the ball into the Vulcans’ side of the field. Whenever the Cougars get the ball moving well through their midfielders, their offense finds large amounts of success and their chances of winning goes up significantly.
“We started out really well, moving the ball quickly and getting numbers forward,” Head Coach Dave Blomquist said. “That was probably the biggest thing for us tonight, especially in the first half. In the first 30 minutes, we were getting a lot of players forward in the attack and got three really great goals.”
The first goal for the Cougars came about 15 minutes into game. A pass from senior midfielder Trenton Titus led freshman midfielder/defender Colton Lamb to the top of the box as he handled it and fired the shot into the top-right corner.
The next two goals were scored by senior midfielder Oktay Bulut. The first of his two goals came from a stellar cross from sophomore defender Tanner Akol. He sent it into the box and Bulut headed it right post for the score. Bulut’s second goal came off a free kick he bent into the top-left corner of the net.
“The other night, we just didn’t have that [quality play],” Blomquist said. “Tonight, they wanted to make it right and were more focused. The first two were great plays: Trenton finding Colton followed by a great hit from outside the box, and it was a well-worked play to get it to Tanner and he delivered a fantastic cross from distance that Oktay arrived on. I was really pleased with the build-up and the final product in getting the goals.”
After the three quick scores, 69 minutes and 41 seconds remained in the game. The Cougars next task was to maintain the lead for the remainder of the game and they did that by staying composed, aggressive and focused.
Senior goalkeeper Scott Kinney started the game and recorded four saves in the first half. In the 15th minute, he and Vulcans’ junior midfielder Xavier Fuerte both charged hard at a loose ball in the box. Kinney took a lot of contact and sat the second half out while senior goalkeeper Jeff Dunn filled in between the posts and finished the shutout that Kinney started.
“When you do get a lead, you don’t want to fall into a lull,” Blomquist said. “Especially through the second half, we kept going. The guys that came in kept that level high for us. I thought everybody that got on [the field tonight] did really well.”
This game was one that the Cougars were anticipating after Monday night’s loss left a bad taste in their mouth. If anything, they wanted to make sure the game against Hawai’i Pacific was nothing but a hiccup.
“[This win] gets us right back on track in conference,” Blomquist said. “We don’t let one defeat get us down. We were ready for tonight to get rolling again and now, we’re looking forward to Saturday’s game.”
After Thursday’s win, the Cougars improve to a 7-3 overall record and a 4-1 conference record. Their next matchup is against Chaminade (0-7, 0-3) this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Cougar Soccer Complex.