STOCKTON, Calif. - The Tigers opened conference play on Saturday a good note, sweeping past GCC opponent Azusa Pacific by a final score of 15-7. The Orange and Black utilized a 4-0 run to get ahead in the first period and never looked back, improving to an overall of 8-6 on the season and 1-0 in conference play. The Cougars drop to 12-10 on the year, 1-1 in GCC play, and snap a three-game winning streak.
Pacific controlled the pace of the game from the start jumping out to a 4-0 lead to close out the first period. The Tigers forced 11 Cougar turnovers in the first period of play, seven of which came off steals.
Mariana Duarte had a field day on the offensive end, recording two goals at the 5:28 and 2:41 mark in the first. Duarte finished with five goals on the day, the second time this season the Sao Paolo, Brazil native has scored five or more goals, off eight shot attempts. Duarte leads the team and currently ranks fourth in the GCC in goals scored (34).
In the second, Azusa put the first points up on the board at the 7:33 mark. Duarte would answer the Cougars' score, however, registering a goal on the following possession off an assist from Karolina Hlavata.
The Tigers would go on to score two more unanswered goals at the 5:23 and 4:28 mark from attackers Kyra Christmas and Savannah Fitzgerald. Christmas finished with four goals and a season-high, five assists, in her match on Saturday. The redshirt sophomore had a game-high four steals to go along with her four goals for the Orange and Black.
Leading with a 9-3 advantage at halftime, Pacific continued it's scoring spree in the third period going on a 4-1 run to push their lead to 13-4. The Tigers took 11 shots in the period.
Kennedy Watson and Brooke Contreras each chipped in a goal for the Tigers in the fourth frame. Watson caught a feed from Kamryn Lucero at the 6:44 mark and found the back of the cage for her third goal of the season. Freshman Brooke Contreras made her only shot of the day count with 4:18 to go receiving a pass from Christmas to find the back net and score Pacific's final goal of the match.
Pacific shot 15-26 from the field, a .417 shooting clip, and converted on 3-5 powerplays. The Tigers had some help from goalkeepers Alexis Hollinrake and Samantha Pfaff as well. The two keepers combined for five saves and six steals.
The Orange and Black head on the road next weekend for a three-game roadtrip against No. 3 USC, No. 11 Loyola Marymount, and No. 24 Cal Baptist. The Tigers take on LMU next Friday, March 23rd, at 4:00 PM followed by a 12:00 PM match against Cal Baptist on Saturday and a 1:00 PM match against the Trojans on Sunday.