The undefeated Cougars took on Biola in another Cornerstone Cup match on Senior Night.
The undefeated Azusa Pacific men’s soccer team took on rival Biola on Tuesday on their senior night. The Cougars were 14-0 on the season and ranked number one in NCAA DII prior to the match.
The Biola rivalry is always special since the winner will bring back points for their university as athletic teams from both schools compete in the Cornerstone Cup throughout the year. Emotions were high as well, as the seniors played their last regular-season game at the Cougar Soccer Complex. APU improved to 15-0 on the season with a big 3-0 win over the rival Biola Eagles.
With nearly 500 in attendance, kickoff was lively. The Cougars gave the Eagles an early scare as junior Danillo Dias crossed the ball to junior James Ndubueze for a shot on goal, but it was saved by Biola goalie J.D. Gunn.
APU opened up scoring at the 20-minute mark with a goal by Ndubueze from an amazing through ball from senior Arturo Astorga. Ndubueze later got a yellow card in the 25th minute.
With nine minutes left in the half, Biola had a corner kick opportunity but the Cougar defense held strong, led by goalkeeper Brendan Fix. The Eagles defense made a notable adjustment at the end of the first bringing their forwards back across the half-line to play a more defensive shell since APU’s attack had been so potent.
The second half started out with APU continuing to win the possession battle.
“I think we did really good. We talked with the coaches during the week and they were asking us to play and keep the ball because we weren’t doing that in the last game,” said junior Orlando Lozano.
Sophomore midfielder Gregoire Diep then drove into the box, where he was fouled and was awarded a penalty kick in the 64th minute. Ndubueze took the penalty kick and scored his second goal of the night, faking out the goalie who jumped left as he put the ball on the right in the back of the net.
“On the penalty kick I told [Gregorie Diep] to take it but he said James you take it. On the team we are like brothers and we are having a lot of fun,” Ndubueze said.
Biola was later awarded a free-kick from 40 meters out and the Biola player launched the ball towards the goal, but it was blocked. In the 73rd minute, the Cougars had the play of the game as senior Bruno Pagani took the ball wide right and crossed it over to the far post where junior forward David Kwinn headed the cross into the back of the net for an incredible goal.
The game came to a close as the Cougars played keep away and kicked the ball around to kill the clock to seal the victory. The Cougars had 24 shots total and the defense gave up zero shots on goal.
“It was our most complete performance of the year, with how we moved the ball well, and defensively how we dealt with their counter and free kicks winning the ball back quickly,” said head coach David Blomquist.
Ndubueze was one of the stars on the night with two goals.
“We knew this game is special because it’s a rivalry game and winning our last home game against Biola is the best thing to happen,” Ndubeze said.
The Cougars will finish the regular season with three road games. APU is looking to keep their number one seed in order to host the western region playoff games where they would receive a first-round bye due to their record in the regular season.