This article was originally published in ZU News.
The first Cornerstone Cup games for both the men’s and women’s soccer didn’t go in the Cougars’ direction. The women’s game ended in a tie, 1-1, after two goals in the first two minutes. The men’s game ended in a 0-2 loss, with Biola scoring twice in the final eight minutes.
“Our girls knew the significance of it. They were a part of building on what the volleyball team had done,” head coach Don Lawrence said. “Biola is a good team. They’re very athletic and well coached. We had a battle on our hands. We couldn’t get a hold of ourselves in the first half, but we did better in the second half.”
Freshman midfielder Randy Macadangdang scored APU’s only goal two minutes into the game. Biola then came racing back across the field and scored on a penalty kick from Paula-Marie Labate only 20 seconds later.
Neither team scored for the rest of the game, though both had plenty of chances. APU took seven shots, including three on goal. Biola took 17 shots with seven of them on goal. APU had three corner kicks to Biola’s seven. The Cougars did outplay Biola in one important regard, they only had four fouls on the night while Biola had 16.
Junior defender Brook Gower said she was proud of the way the team played.
“We had some really good chances. We didn’t give up,” Gower said. “It wasn’t our best game, but we played until the last minute and didn’t let them score.”
In the second overtime of the game with a little over a minute remaining, a Biola player took a shot that soared through the air and looked like it might go in the goal, before it bounced off the crossbar.
“My heart dropped right then,” Gower said. “I didn’t know if it was going in. I thought Zoey [Bauman, the Cougars’ starting goalkeeper] would have saved it if it was. I have a lot of faith in her. But my first instinct was just to get it out immediately after it hit the crossbar.”
Lawrence was even more relieved than Gower when he saw the ball bounce off.
“We’ve had two games this year in overtime with a similar shot where it hit the crossbar and went into the goal instead of bouncing off. We lost to Chico State and Sonoma State on those. We got a little bit of luck tonight,” Lawrence said.
Gower said she would have liked to win the first soccer game of the Cornerstone Cup, especially in front of the home crowd.
“I like what we’re doing. I like that we’re trying to bring the rivalry back,” Gower said. “It was especially good to have all the other athletes come support us. It felt really good to have such a fanbase.”
Lawrence saw this game as a very significant one. It was not the first time he had coached against Biola.
“Since I came here in 1973 as an assistant basketball coach, that rivalry for me is the biggest thing,” Lawrence said. “For me it probably meant a lot more than for some of these young girls. This is the first time they have ever played Biola.”
Lawrence said the team played well, given that they were without their top scorer and top defensive back.
“We have a rough stretch ahead of us. We can’t get ahead of ourselves, but if this crew continues to improve the way they’ve improved since the beginning of the year, we’ve got a good shot of taking this thing [the conference title],” Lawrence said. “We’ve got to make sure that we take it one game at a time, one half at a time, one play at a time. That’s been a little difficult for them.”
After the Biola game, the women’s team played two more games against Dominican and Notre Dame de Namur. Both games resulted in wins for the Cougars, moving them to a 5-3-2 on the season. They will play at home on Saturday against Hawaii Pacific at 5 p.m. at the Cougar Soccer Complex.
“The first half was the best half we played all season. We moved the ball well and played with a crispness and precision we haven’t had yet,” head coach Dave Blomquist said. “The second half we came out a flat and we know as a team we can’t do that. We have to stay at a high level.”
Blomquist emphasized the imperativeness of finishing strong in the second half. This was also echoed by senior midfielder Zach McCollum.
“We need to work on not letting up in the second half. We just couldn’t put it away,” McCollum said.
McCollum believed that APU played better than Biola for most of the game.
“Finishing is our biggest problem. We get the ball in really good positions but we’re not going to win any games unless we put it in the net. That’s what it comes down to,” McCollum said. “I honestly think we played them off of the park. We moved the ball really well. They barely had any chances.”
Blomquist acknowledged that the team needs to work on their offense.
“Our back four is moving the ball well and defending almost every play. The midfield three was fantastic in the first half, but somewhat stagnant in the second half,” Blomquist said. “In the front three, we’re still searching for the combination of players that’s going to make a difference.”
After the loss to Biola, the men’s team won against Dominican, but lost to Notre Dame de Namur, and have now fallen to an overall record of 2-8-1. They will play at home on Saturday against Hawaii Pacific at 7:30 p.m. at the Cougar Soccer Complex.