Although the Cougars are not off to the start they’d like, there is a lot to learn and even more to play for looking ahead to PacWest play.
A quick penalty-kick goal in the 14th minute for Point Loma Nazareth University set the tone for the first half. Azusa Pacific University’s goalkeeper Leo Moreno saved the initial shot, but the Sea Lions scored on the rebound, putting the Cougars down 0-1.
Many of the possessions were controlled by the Sea Lions, and the Cougars had to change their strategy to fight back. Four key saves from Moreno kept the Cougars in the game. With a lot of back-and-forth play, the Cougars held their ground on defense and headed into the second half with a score of 0-1 .
Looking back at the first half, Head Coach Dave Blomquist saw that APU wasn’t being aggressive enough.
“We were sound defensively in the first half, but they were dictating all of the play,” he commented.
Kicking off the second half, the Cougars came out with more energy. They were more aggressive and applied more pressure to the Sea Lion’s offense. Point Loma continued to control many of the possessions, taking seven shot attempts compared to APU’s two shot attempts.
With only 10 minutes left in the game, APU picked up their pace. Both teams were playing more frantically and picked up several yellow cards. The Cougars were able to keep possession of the ball and get more looks for shot attempts. Moreno went on to have four more saves at the end of the second half.
Despite the Cougars’ efforts, a few missed touches and overshot passes left the Cougars falling short of a goal. After battling through the second half, APU ended the game with a loss to Point Loma 0-1.
Although the season hasn’t started out how he would like, Coach Blomquist is optimistic about the team’s remaining games. They’re going to take these losses to learn and grow from them. Players Joseph Macpherson, #3, and Fritz Oestreicher, #15, both thought their team responded well to the pressure they received from Point Loma tonight, and worked hard to keep the score where it was.
“After the goal we responded well and tried to keep it up, work hard, but not everything worked out how we wanted to,” said Oestreicher.
“These pre-season games have been helpful in understanding where we are as a team, and what we need,” added Macpherson.
The Cougars will be back at it on Monday, preparing for their next game. They open their PacWest conference games at the Cougar Soccer Complex on Friday, Sep. 30 against Concordia. Coach Blomquist is ready to get their season rolling with a victory.
“I think if we can play with the energy and determination that we showed in the second half tonight, and we can do that from the start, then we set ourselves up for a great game,” he said.