RIVERSIDE, Calif. --- The NAIA's No. 16-ranked Azusa Pacific scored 33 seconds into the second half then survived a red card and a late barrage by California Baptist University to hang on for a 1-0 win in the GSAC Tournament Semifinals.
The Lancers, who were coming off their first-ever playoff win in program history, drop to 15-4-0 and must now wait to see if they earn an at-large berth to the NAIA National Championship. The win moves the Cougars into next Saturday's finals as they improve to 16-3-1.
It was just the third time this year the Lancers have been shutout.
The last time these two met, it was the Lancers who came out with a 1-0 win. This time, it was the Cougars' turn.
"We had the energy at the end of the game, but we didn't have it for a full 90 minutes," said CBU Head Coach Ryan Jorden. "You have to have energy for 90 minutes in a playoff setting, and we're still learning how to do that."
After a scoreless first half, Alex Earl scored just 33 seconds out of the intermission. A ball was lofted into the area, and squirted through the Lancer defense. It was then flicked over Lancer keeper Joey Pacheco towards the goal line. Earl beat another Lancer defender to the ball and slipped it in the net.
"We fell asleep for about 10 seconds right at the beginning of the half and got caught," said Jorden. "As a result, we gave up a goal when there was no danger. It only takes one and then you have to go play uphill. Against a good team, that's hard to do."
Though it was the only goal of the game, it heightened the intensity, which swelled even more in the 73rd minute when Cougar defender Lucas Young was issued a straight red card for taking a swing at the Lancers' Tiburcio Casillas after the two got tied up going for a ball.
The Lancers, who had just five shots to that point, began to take advantage of their man advantage, finally moving forward. They threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Cougars, ripping off seven of their 12 shots in the final 17 minutes, but none of them were overly threatening for Cougar keeper Chip Cox, who was making his first career start.
"You have to have people who are willing to smack a ball on frame, and we didn't get that today," said Jorden. "We wanted to take too many touches in the box, and you can't do that in a playoff game. It's all about grinding your way towards goal. We passed the ball pretty poorly today, and that makes scoring difficult."
The Lancers' best chance came with 58 seconds left when Tim Wardell was square on the right side of the area and ripped an uncontested shot, but it sailed just over the cross bar.
The Cougars out-shot the Lancers, 14-12, and Pacheco came up with five saves in his second start, keeping the Lancers in the game.
"They probably could have scored a few more times, but Joey made a couple of great saves," said Jorden.
The 32-team NAIA Tournament field gets announced next Sunday and at-large berths will be doled out according the NAIA Modified RPI rating. There are only 5-6 at-large berths available, and the Lancers were sixth in the last RPI rating released Oct. 27.