The Cougars remain undefeated in PacWest play
The men’s squad is a perfect 5-0 in conference play and 10-1-1 overall after two more convincing wins against PacWest opponents, Dominican and Holy Names.
The Cougars asserted their dominance on Thursday, Oct. 11, by shutting out Dominican 4-0. It was their fourth shutout of the year and second in a row. Coach Blomquist attributed their defensive success to communication between the goalkeeper and the back line.
“I think we have got some really good understanding and the communication has increased. Through Brendan, through Pablo, and the back four…they are recognizing those important moments when they need to come alive defensively when it is really a dangerous opportunity,” Blomquist said. “There were a few times where Dominican broke down the wings and had some decent crosses in, but we were on top of our marking and came alive in those moments.”
The Cougars frustrated Dominican with a persistent hunger for the ball, especially after losing possession of it. Blomquist credited the first lines of defense for their willingness to defend and desire to attack.
“It is just an alertness in our attacking group and a hunger to win the ball back. We are a team that wants the ball. We want to complete a lot of passes over the course of the game so when we lose it, we want it back quickly,” Blomquist noted.
Junior midfielder Bruno Pagani played a huge role in the middle winning balls back and helping his team get into the attack. He credited his team’s work ethic in practice for the their defensive intensity during games.
“We work on it every day. We know that the defense part is pretty important,” Pagani said. “The better we defend, the more chances we have to score and win games, so that is our priority.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Brendan Fix credited the coaching staff for instilling that defensive mentality and rhythm.
“Honestly, it is just our coaches. They have implemented this mentality into us,” Fix said. “The best teams, when they lose the ball, are the first ones to win it back right away.”
It was the sixth game of the season that APU scored at least four goals in a contest.
Freshman midfielder Gabriel Costa netted his 11th goal of the year from the penalty spot in the 50th minute and was credited with the assist on midfielder Justin Glaser’s first goal of the season. James Ndubueze scored his sixth goal of the season in the 27th minute, and Aleksandar Pumpalovic recorded the first goal of his career on a second-half penalty kick.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, the Cougars continued to score goals by the bunches in a 4-1 victory against Holy Names.
Freshman midfielder Gregoire Diep led the charge in this one with two goals and one assist. His first goal came five minutes in on Costa’s team-leading 10th assist. Diep’s second goal was a free kick from 23 yards out in the 49th minute. Sophomore midfielder David Kwinn got onto the scoring sheet late in the first half on a counter attack, and in the 74th minute, junior midfielder Arturo Astorga scored his seventh of the season.
Fix praised the team’s chemistry on and off the field and explained why that has led to a robust offense.
“Really it is just a lot of good chemistry on and off the field,” Fix said. “Not just on the field, but we are really a close family off the field. Everyone knows everyone’s movements and the runs that people are making. Honestly, from my position, it is really fun to watch.”
Azusa Pacific looks to continue their dominance Thursday, Oct. 18, against second place, Fresno Pacific.