Men’s and women’s soccer combined for a record of 3-1-0 on their respective two-game road trips
It was a busy week for Azusa Pacific’s men’s and women’s soccer programs as each team went on the road to face Notre Dame de Namur and Dominican on Thursday and Saturday. The Cougars were 3-1 on the weekend, as the men’s team won both its matches and the women split theirs.
The women’s team squared off against NDNU in the first game of the week, a game that would turn out to be a shootout classic. APU found themselves down a daunting three goals to none just 22 minutes into the first half. NDNU’s Vanessa Sanchez scored twice in two minutes to help give her team a comfortable lead, but the Cougars remained determined. Senior Emmy Koflanovich scored off a pass from junior Randi Macadangdang to give the Cougars momentum heading into the half.
APU came out firing in the second half. They scored twice in the 54th minute, tying the game at 3-3 on goals from sophomore Ella Romero and junior Maddy Morrison. They took the lead in the 74th minute on Macadangdang’s second score of the day, a spectacular steal-and-shoot play. The Argonauts answered with a goal off a rebounded shot to tie the game at 4-4 late in the game.
The Cougars’ relentless offensive attack was unimpeded by NDNU’s equalizer, and Koflanovich beat the keeper one-on-one for her second goal to give the Cougars the lead in the 82nd minute. Freshman Mackenzie Coleman scored a dagger only two minutes later. NDNU scored in the 86th minute to bring the game within a goal’s reach, but it proved to be too little too late, and the Cougars won 6-5.
It was a different story for the men’s team who faced off against NDNU shortly thereafter. The top-ranked Cougars took an early lead in the 18th minute off senior Arturo Astorga’s goal, the eighth of his outstanding senior campaign. They scored again in the 27th minute after junior Romio Sislian set up junior David Kwinn for the score. APU held onto their 2-0 lead until halftime.
Junior James Ndubueze shined once again in the second half. He scored three minutes into the half off assists from Sislian and junior Danillo Dias, who both finished the game with two assists apiece. The Argonauts scored their only goal of the day a few minutes later, but the Cougars held their lead until Ndubueze could find the back of the net for the second time in the 89th minute.
The Cougars remained perfect on the season with their 4-1 route of NDNU, and clinched their second consecutive PacWest title. They also kept their hopes alive of becoming the first PacWest team to ever finish with a perfect regular-season record.
The women’s team hoped to finish their season on a high note with a victory against Dominican University on Saturday. In a low scoring match, APU outshot Dominican 6-2 in the first half. The second of the Penguins’ two shots made its way into the net a few ticks before halftime.
The Cougars had several opportunities to score, tallying seven shots in the second half. But Dominican thwarted each scoring attempt and shut them out, beating the Cougars 1-0 in their final game of the season.
The men’s team looked to make history in their match against Dominican. With their undefeated record and #1 ranking behind them, they entered Saturday’s game confident in their ability to do so.
The game belonged to APU from the start. Astorga gave the Cougars an early lead again, scoring in the fifth minute. In the 20th minute, Ndubueze found sophomore Victor Ramos on a skilled loft pass, giving Ramos the opportunity to chip it past the Penguin keeper for the score. Ndubueze scored a goal of his own a minute later, and the Cougars took a 3-0 lead into the half.
APU added goals from junior Orlando Lozano and Astorga in the second half to cruise to a 5-0 victory and complete their perfect regular season.
The women’s team finished their season with a record of 9-7-2, 5-5-1 in the PacWest. In an up and down season, they missed the opportunity to continue into the postseason despite a winning record.
APU’s men’s team, however, finished with a perfect record, the first PacWest team to ever accomplish the feat. As the top-ranked team in the nation for seven straight weeks, they look forward to a favorable seating in Super Region 4 of the NCAA tournament. They will likely receive a first-round bye and play the winner of the 8th and 9th seeded matchup on Saturday, Nov. 23.