The Cougars finish their homestand with four straight wins
Azusa Pacific women’s soccer came back from their trip to Hawaii with a 1-1-1 record in PacWest play, and that was an improvement on their previous string of results. Now, they are sitting on a four-game win streak and playing better than ever.
On Thursday, Oct. 18 the Cougars took a 2-0 victory over Fresno Pacific and finished the week with a 3-1 victory over Academy of Art on Saturday, Oct. 20.
The match against Fresno Pacific started off slowly, with only six total shots between the two sides and no goals. However, both teams kicked into gear for the second half. Both teams began attacking regularly, forcing saves from both keepers.
Goalkeeper Tatum French applauded the way her team rose to the challenge that Fresno Pacific presented
“I think we came out tough. Fresno Pacific was a physical team, but we came out and proved that we are capable of scoring two goals in the second half, and not every team can do that, so it is great that we have the confidence to pull that off,” French said.
Christine Messner broke the deadlock in the 76th minute, converting on a lofted free kick that found its way between the hands of the keeper and the underside of the crossbar from 30 yards out. Azusa Pacific found another goal in the 81st minute to extend their lead to two goals as Kaylee Nicoll found Kennedy Christie inside the penalty area.
The match against Academy of Art could not have started any better for the Cougars. Emmy Koflanovich got possession around midfield for Azusa Pacific, ran down the right side and sent in a cross to Randi Macadangdang, who volleyed it to the far post in the first minute of the game.
“I was running down my side of the field and I saw Emmy get to the end line,” Macadangdang said. “So I got ready for the cross to come in and I got a touch to it and it ended up in the back of the net.”
Although the rest of the first half was relatively quiet, the Cougars looked like they were the more dangerous side for the majority of the game.
The Cougars added another goal in the 52nd minute, thanks again to a run from Koflanovich. Her run down the right sideline pulled defenders out of position allowing her to slot a pass to Kellie Yoshihara, who was all alone in the box, for another goal. Minutes later, Koflanovich combined with Nicoll at the top of the penalty area and let a shot go from about 20 yards out beating the keeper at the near post.
Koflanovich noted how the attack and a change of game plan has improved during the season.
“Coach Lincoln has been drilling into our heads to take the ball to the end line, dribble at the goal and slide a ball through. Now we have finally been able to connect with that and get some goals out of it,” Koflanovich said.
Academy of Art answered in the 73rd minute with a header from a corner kick, but the damage had already been done, as the Cougars went on to win 3-1.
Through the four-game homestand, Azusa Pacific gave up just one goal while scoring seven of their own. With a 5-1-1 record in conference play, they sit in second place behind Point Loma in the PacWest.
French applauded her back line noting that they were a major key in the team’s recent success.
“It is really tough to find good center backs, and we have two solid players that are able to do whatever it takes to keep the ball out of the back of the net,” French said. “They are the first line of defense before me, so it is great that I can have the confidence in them knowing that they will make something happen and get the ball away from danger.”
Lincoln talked about how far this team has come and where they turned their season around.
“I think that moment came in the Dominican game when we were able to put the ball in the back of the net and go up 1-0. That was a small spark of ‘Okay , we can do this,’ then we put the second one in, and then we were able to keep a clean sheet. You just keep taking little steps, and now we’ve been able to put four little steps together, and now all of a sudden, it is not our coaching staff trying to help them believe, the players themselves know it is possible,” Lincoln said.
The Cougars will take to the road next week with games at Concordia on Wednesday, Oct. 24 and at Biola on Saturday, Oct. 27.