LA MIRADA, Calif. --- It was the first time this season that Biola had to face a top-25 team, and it was the first time this year they walked away with a win over a ranked opponent, defeating Cal State San Marcos, 1-0.
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics released its newest top 25 poll on Tuesday, and with a 4-0-1 record Cal State San Marcos Cougars came in at No. 15. Biola garnered some votes, but did not squeeze into the top 25. The two teams met tonight at Al Barbour Field.
"It is a good win, because they are a good team that makes it really difficult for you to get out of your own half," said Head Coach Todd Elkins
Both teams are known as defensive powers in the NAIA, with San Marcos' keeper entering the contest 3-0-1 with a 0.00 GAA, while only facing seven shots on goal this season.
The game lived up to every expectation as both teams stayed locked in a struggle throughout the entire 90 minutes and intrigue remained down to the very last second.
"We were battling to try and get a good clearance and set up an opportunity," said Elkins. "It was easier said than done against this defense."
Biola controlled possession throughout the first half, but primarily in their defensive zone. They were able to hold the Cougars without a single shot on goal, while the Eagles managed to get one shot on goal and made the most of it.
It was 22 minutes in when Morgan Aukshunas rocketed a long cross from the left side of the field to the close right post. Amanda Lillicrop leapt and beat her defender for the header which went up and over the outstretched hand of the keeper into the back of the net.
The goal was Lillicrop's first of the season and the first assist of the year for Aukshunas.
"It was a great service that was able to beat San Marcos' back line," said Elkins. "The timing was perfect and Amanda (Lillicrop) was in a great spot to receive it."
The Eagles maintained the 1-0 lead into the halftime break and when play resumed in the second half San Marcos came out with a renewed life, dominating possession early on.
The Eagles back line stepped up secured some solid takeaways to slow the momentum of the Cougars attack.
"Early in the second half they weren't letting us play short," said Elkins. "They were running a few steps higher, and we had to make some adjustments to get over that hump. I think we improved as the half went on."
The defensive grind began to wear on San Marcos as two of their players got cautioned after committing persistent fouls throughout the game.
The game stayed tight until the very end of the game as the Cougars picked up their offensive press in the final five minutes, but Briana Williams was able to hold all attempts off, picking up one save and ending up with the 1-0 shutout.
The win moves Williams to 4-1-0 and the Eagles to 5-2-0 and drops Cal State San Marcos to 4-1-1.
Biola's next game is an away match next Friday at NCAA Div. II team Notre Dame de Namur.