The Azusa Pacific women’s soccer season has officially come to an end. The Cougars fell to UC San Diego in the second round of the NCAA playoffs, losing by a score of 4-2.
The women finished their season 14-4-4, suffering their first loss since Sept. 24 and ending an unbeaten run of 12 games.
“It was disappointing, but the girls battled,” head coach Jason Surrell said. “We had our chances, but on the day [San Diego was] the better team.”
Surrell reflected on the team’s journey and said he is proud of the season the team had.
“To win the conference, to win a game at the national tournament, get to the second round [of the playoffs] and lose against a really quality team, that’s the way it goes. This was a phenomenal season, these girls did amazing and they just battled that whole game,” Surrell said.
For the Cougars, the season began and ended in San Diego. Their first game of the season was a 0-5 loss against the Tritons, forcing the Cougars to regroup and learn from their mistakes.
“Early in the season, we had a pretty tough loss to them, and that is something we were hoping for redemption here today,” senior goalkeeper Sarah Klinkenberg said.
Freshman defender Emilie Allum scored one of the two goals against UC San Diego. She said she believes the team turned their season around completely after their first game and is proud of the team’s effort.
“I think we flipped 180 degrees as a team from that first game to our last, and we’ve grown together and found ourselves really connecting on and off the field,” Allum said.
Despite the Cougars’ best efforts, the Tritons gained momentum early in the game, scoring three goals within a 15-minute period. The Cougars attempted to find their way back into the game in the second half of play, but it wasn’t enough.
“Even though it was a loss, as a whole we know that we are family and we know how much we worked for the conference title. I think what’s holding us together is just knowing that we put it all out there on the field. We really fought for each other, so that was really big for us,” Allum said.
The Cougars got into the playoffs after their last regular season game ended in a 1-1 tie against Point Loma. APU had to rely on Dixie State to beat Concordia in order to win the PacWest conference and return to the playoffs, which they did.
On Nov. 10, the Cougars won the first round of the playoffs against Sonoma State, beating them 3-1. APU ended Sonoma State’s season in the playoffs last year as well.
“This team was incredible this year,” Klinkenberg said. “We knew it was going to take a conference title to make playoffs. We set our goal and accomplished that one first. We made the postseason, and I couldn’t be prouder.”