With the end of the fall semester, here’s a brief recap of APU’s fall sports
It was nothing short of brilliance from Azusa Pacific’s volleyball team this season. Their 28-5 overall record reflected their tremendous success. A 20-2 PacWest conference record earned the team a second consecutive PacWest title. They also had a perfect 11-0 record while playing at home. Throughout the month of November, the team went a perfect 10-0, winning 30 sets while only dropping four.
With experience on the Cougars side in 2019, the senior group of Sara Wagenveld, Aliyah Morrison and Julianne Miller impressed week after week. Collectively they earned 809 kills this season, along with 302 blocks. The team also saw a strong season from freshman Annaka Jorgenson who led the team with 336 kills. Even more important than this, Jorgenson solidified herself as the future of their program. Defensively, Bailey Henington was phenomenal, accumulating 697 digs, which was easily the most in her tenure as a Cougar.
Making it to the NCAA Division II West Regional Tournament, APU advanced to the third round after defeating Cal State Los Angeles and Western Washington. Their season came to a finish after losing a hard-fought 3-2 match to the number one ranked Cal State San Bernardino. Nevertheless, this team had an excellent season, and they look to continue their success in 2020.
History was made at the Cougar Soccer Complex in 2019, as the Cougars executed a perfect 18-0 regular season. Week after week this team impressed on the pitch, and their excellence was rewarded as they maintained a number-one ranking amongst the NCAA Division II rankings throughout the season.
Juniors James Ndubueze and David Kwinn were the most effective scorers throughout this season, combining for 31 goals during the season. Senior midfielder Arturo Astorga was an important factor towards generating offensive productivity as well, notching 10 goals to go along with a team-high 11 assists. Even more impressive was the team’s defense, which earned eight shutouts.
Despite being ranked first in NCAA DII soccer, the team’s postseason run only lasted one game as they lost to the eighth-ranked Colorado School of Mines in the first round. Although certainly a disheartening conclusion, the program has built a strong foundation under the coaching staff of head coach Dave Blomquist and assistant Andriy Bundyy. The team has high expectations for next year.
After a fairly unproductive 2018 campaign for first-year coach Brooke Lincoln, the women’s soccer team entered the 2019 season with a chip on their shoulders. Despite a 9-7-2 season record, which was not enough for them to reach the NCAA West Regional Tournament, it was a strong improvement from last year.
Quite possibly the biggest reason for the improvement was the strong junior class. A trio of Cougars were named All-PacWest, as Randi Macadangdang and Maddy Morrison made the second team, while Brianna Haskins was named on the third team roster. All three will return for the 2020 campaign and hope to use their experience to allow the Cougars to escape their playoff drought.
On the defensive side, sophomore goalkeeper Jennifer Kovisto, who had her first campaign as a consistent starter, impressed throughout the season as well. She earned a total of five clean sheets and accumulated an impressive 1.27 goals-against average along with 50 saves. The team will have most of their roster intact by the start of next season, and hopefully 2020 will be the year when this team makes a major stride forward.
Unfortunately for APU’s football team this season, it was early season injuries that led to a poor campaign. The Cougars saw injuries to both running back Aaron Baltazar and linebacker Willie Fair following the first game of the season. Not only were both of these players seniors, but they also brought exceptional leadership on the offensive and defensive sides of the game. With both on the sideline for the remainder of the season, it was a major adjustment; one head coach Victor Santa Cruz and his team were unable to overcome.
The Cougars finished the season with a 1-9 record, along with a winless four-game stretch at home. Although the team brought some fight in the final few games of the campaign, with two of their last three games only being decided by a field goal or less, it is safe to say that this football season was a disappointment.
However, APU did see some impressive individual performances. Redshirt freshman Jasiah Richard-Lewis was a consistent pass target this season, earning 481 receiving yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side, defensive back Quentin Frazier had a strong outing, leading the team in both total tackles with 70 and solo tackles with 44.
For APU’s cross country team, it was the balance of youth and experience that allowed them to be competitive throughout the six races both the men and women squads competed in this season.
For the men, while the experience of racers such as senior Kurt Hake and junior Nathaniel Tamminga allowed for veteran leadership, it was the young talent that sparked excitement for this squad. Freshmen Ben Sumner and Nixon Korir produced fantastic finishes week after week for this team, and Korir was eventually named the PacWest Freshman of the Year.
For the women, the execution from transfer student and former Villanova competitor Sammy Bockoven did wonders for their team, as she was named the PacWest Newcomer of the Year. Nevertheless, it was the arrival of junior Natali Contreras that was the highlight for the women this season. Her excellence at the end of the campaign, where she finished in the top 10 overall during her last two races, allowed her to receive PacWest First-Team honors for the first time in her collegiate career.