Cougars’ defense stands strong against Santa Clara
After losing a nail-biter earlier in the week in conference play, Azusa Pacific rebounded and held on for a 5-4 victory against Santa Clara.
“After the CBU loss, we were heartbroken,” senior Erica Marquez said. “We took Easter break to rejuvenate our bodies and recuperate. Then we came back to practice on Monday and we hit the drawing board and went back to the basics. We didn’t focus on what we did wrong, we focused on how we have to move as a team to move forward. We had team meetings, both in and out of the water, and they were just discussions and re-working the system that we trust. We went back to the system and got the result that we hoped for against Santa Clara.”
Those meetings and discussions, while they didn’t perfect every aspect of the game, helped the Cougars to regain some confidence and allowed them to get the result they were looking for. Although not everything went according to plan, head coach Julie Snodgrass was pleased with some of the improvements made.
“We had a lot of opportunities, a lot of missed opportunities, but we were able to work through some team hardships, injuries, illnesses and things of that nature, but overall I’m happy we got the win,” Snodgrass said. “I’m happy we were applying some of the things we worked on this week in practice. We just have to make sure we complete on those opportunities.”
The Broncos took an early lead, but junior Marissa Joerke and the Cougars responded quickly. Santa Clara responded to take the lead again, but the Cougars would score back-to-back goals from sophomore Sarah Adams and senior Britt Harris to take a lead of their own going into the second quarter.
Although the first quarter was high-scoring, the offense all but stopped for both teams in the second quarter. Junior Arianne Yeo scored the lone goal with two minutes left in the half, and the Cougars’ defense withstood waves of attacks from Santa Clara.
The second half was more similar to the second quarter than the first quarter. Both teams relied heavily on their defenses, and there were only three goals scored in the third and fourth quarters. Santa Clara’s Maggie Oys registered the only goal of the third quarter, While Carinna Prince and Annie Eldredge scored for Azusa Pacific and Santa Clara respectively in the fourth quarter.
Although the Cougars faced a lot of pressure down the stretch, the team defense stood strong and Erica Marquez was a force in goal. The Cougars out-shot Santa Clara 29-22 and converted 2-10 powerplays. Marquez had seven saves and six steals on the day.
“Our defense was really solid. When you see a low-scoring game like this, it’s thanks to the defense,” Marquez said.
Shots were not falling for Azusa Pacific either, but Snodgrass was more so pleased with the amount of opportunities than she was frustrated with the lack of finishing.
“I think it was just an off shooting day. It’s just one of those things that we have been working on honing as a team. Sometimes shots are on point and sometimes they’re not, but we had a lot of missed shots. We were able to draw a lot of six-on-five opportunities, but the looks were good so we just need to be able to finish the shots.”
Sophomore Sarah Adams also noted the shooting struggles, but acknowledged the fact that the Cougars’ offense was getting the opportunities to take good shots.
“We had a lot of counter opportunities to get a lot of people open. We may not have taken advantage of them, but they were there. We also had a lot of opportunities to shoot, so I think our offense was good in this game, along with the defense,” Adams said.
Azusa Pacific will continue their three-game homestand on Saturday, April 14 against Loyola-Marymount in a pivotal Golden Coast Conference matchup.