A day after defeating the defending NAIA champion, the Azusa Pacific women's soccer team capped an undefeated season with a national championship Saturday, defeating Simon Fraser, 2-1, at Mobile, Ala.
The Cougars (24-0-1) got a strange goal and an assist from tournament most valuable player Kendra Payne as they won in their first NAIA tournament appearance.
"At the beginning of the season, our goal was to get [to the NAIA tournament]," said second-year Coach Christian Johnson, who had his head shaved by his team after the game. "But I never imagined winning it."
Azusa Pacific played Simon Fraser (15-4-2) of British Columbia less than 24 hours after ending Mobile's 45-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory on penalty kicks.
"It was tough coming back from 90 minutes of overtime," Johnson said. "It wasn't a great game for either team."
The Cougars took a 1-0 lead late in the first half thanks to Payne's improvising.
In the 42nd minute, Payne took a pass from Janay Duran with her back to the goalkeeper. When she turned to her left to dribble, she lost her shoe.
"I saw the far post was open, so I kicked it barefoot," said Payne, who had four goals and an assist in Azusa's four tournament games. "The goalie got a hand on it and I thought she made the save. But it went in.
"It was really cool."
Payne also set up the second goal, feeding Kimber Carter in the 59th minute to make it 2-0.
"The whole team played great, but [Payne] stepped it up huge for us in the tournament," Johnson said.
It is the 14th national title in Azusa Pacific history.