Women’s soccer falls in NCCAA regional finals

c61eb4a6-1dbc-4ab1-915a-63b564bc9d79.jpgThe endless missed opportunities from the Azusa Pacific women’s soccer team proved to be its downfall as APU failed to shoot one in the back, plummeting in a 2-0 shutout against the Point Loma Sea Lions Wednesday night at the Cougar Stadium Complex. While the Cougars clearly dominated the possession battle and overall play throughout the majority of the game, their many chances were not quite enough.

Freshman Sea Lions defender Sydney Dreves threw her way into an assist from the sideline to fellow freshman forward Dottie Rhoten to give Point Loma an early lead in the eighth minute. That was not the end of the pressure in the first half for the Cougars as they struggled to possess, relax and communicate while the Sea Lions dominated and took over the field.

The second half marked a turning point for the Cougars or so it seemed. With 13 of their 17 total shots coming in this half compared with the Sea Lions’ underwhelming three shots, Azusa Pacific failed to position one past the keeper, even when the keeper was out of the box and left the goal unattended. Cougars freshman forward Katelyn Rogers had several chances on goal that were ultimately saved by the Sea Lions’ stellar-performing freshman keeper Ariel Oriarte or stopped by her hustling back-up defenders.

Several of the other chances for the Cougars were shots over the crossbar, the four corner kicks in the second half, a free kick two yards outside the box and two goals that were called back from offside penalties (not to mention the other five offside calls against the Cougars). Point Loma’s defense seemed to have placed an invisible shield across the goal. The Sea Lions maintained their 1-0 lead over the Cougars
until the 87th minute.
On a short breakaway and only the second shot of the half for the Sea Lions, senior defender Leah Porter slid one by freshman Cougar goalkeeper Sarah Klinkenberg to push the Sea Lions to a 2-0 lead with just minutes remaining in the game
helping clinch the shutout and victory for Point Loma.

The competition has always been stiff between the lady Sea Lions and the lady Cougars on the field and tonight was no exception. Last year, the Cougars fell to the Sea Lions in shootouts during the NCCAA West Region Semifinals. Their loss on Wednesday marked the first time in the 15-year history of the program that the Sea Lions have won in back-to-back games against the Cougars.

Point Loma’s win over the Cougars will take the Sea Lions to Kissimmee, Fla., for the NCCAA National Championships and leave the Cougars hoping to get a shot at the championship title through a wildcard pick. The Cougars’ chances for the latter are within reach, since they earned the program’s first-ever Pacific West Conference title this year and boast an overall season record of 12-3-1. The wildcard picks will be decided Sunday.

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