RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- California Baptist University put up a last-ditch effort, but couldn't complete a comeback attempt and fell 2-1 to Azusa Pacific in a non-conference matchup.
"I'm not going to take anything away from APU because they finished their goals and they were good efforts," said head coach Gregg Schroeder. "I blame our guys for not dealing well with the runners and not finishing."
The Lancers came out on the attack to start the game, getting the first shot of the contest in under two minutes. Alex Anderson ripped a shot on frame, forcing APU's goalkeeper Chip Cox to tip it out of bounds.
Lancer goalkeeper Ian Clark initiated an attack in the eighth minute, making a diving effort off a cross to thwart a Cougar attempt. Clark's throw started the counter attack, putting Braedan Pilcher one-on-one with Cox, but once again the Lancers couldn't slip it into the net.
"I think it's a different game if we had finished our two chances we had in the beginning," said Schroeder. "When you don't finish your chances early, you make it even harder for yourself against a good team. You can't give up and you can't not score goals against a good team."
Despite the Lancers getting chances, it would be the Cougars who would get on the board first. Clark was able to stop a shot in the 30th minute, but surrendered a rebound to allow Raul Martinez to slip it into the net and give APU a 1-0 lead.
"We let their player turn and get a shot off," said Schroeder. "Then they cleaned it up instead of us."
The Cougars struck once more five minutes later, again taking advantage of a CBU defensive breakdown. Steven Shiokari split two Lancer defenders, putting Casey Sbrana with just Clark to beat. Clark came out but couldn't hold onto the ball, allowing Sbrana to place it into the empty net.
"We got caught slightly out of position and then it was a 1v1 with our keeper," said Schroeder. "I know it's hard to hold onto a ball that a guy is shooting at the same time so I don't blame Ian for it. Had he have been a step sooner, I think it would've been easy. If we had been tucked in, it would've been easy."
CBU had a good look before the break when Dominic Escalara broke into the box to get a shot on frame, but a Cougar defender came out of nowhere to block the shot and keep the score 2-0 at halftime.
Coming out of the half, the Lancers kept the offensive pressure up and outshot the Cougars 7-2, but couldn't find the back of the net until the 81st minute. Josh Robinson sent a cross into the box, connecting with Anderson who drilled home his seventh goal of the season.
With new energy in their system, the Lancers kept looking for the equalizer, but the Cougar defense remained resolute to hold on to the 2-1 victory.
"I told the guys they can't play only 30 minutes with a sense of urgency," said Schroeder. "The first 60 minutes, I felt like we were just kind of going through the motions. When we got a goal in the last 10 minutes, then the guys got life, but now you're asking a lot out of people to tuck another one away quickly."
The Lancers fall to 5-4-1 on the season with the loss while the Cougars improve to 9-3-0. CBU will get a chace at redemption on Nov. 2 when a rematch takes place at APU, this time as a PacWest matchup. Prior to that, the Lancers head out on the road against Point Loma next Saturday, hoping to shake off the loss.
"We'll look at the video and see where we need to make some corrections and then put this game behind us," said Schroeder. "Just like you can't hold onto a win, you have to be able to put it behind you, same goes for a loss."