The back of the net proved to be a lonely place Saturday for Dixie State University’s men’s soccer team, which suffered a heartbreaking 2-1 loss at home to Azusa Pacific University.
APU opened the scoring in the first half, converting a penalty kick by senior midfielder Oktay Balut in the 18th minute. The penalty came as the result of a controversial hand ball call on DSU junior defender Alex Lawhun.
“The ref must have seen it from a different view,” said Lawhun, an integrated studies major from Draper. “I honestly thought my hands were down by my side…I can’t do anything about it. It is what it is.”
The Red Storm controlled possession in the first half and outshot the Cougars 7-2 heading into the locker room.
Dixie came out strong in the second half, stringing together passes and controlling possession to keep the dangerous APU attack at bay. The Red Storm had multiple opportunities to score but couldn’t find the finishing touch.
“As a team, we played well,” Lawhun said. “We just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
APU took advantage of a rare chance at net with a goal in the 80th minute by sophomore forward Keenan Armbrust to extend its lead to 2-0. The Red Storm countered minutes later with a goal from freshman defender Jordan Steed.
Steed slammed in a close-range shot of a rebounded shot by sophomore defender Bobby Schwarzkopf. The Red Storm kept the pressure up but couldn’t find an equalizing goal, despite their 10 shots in the second half.
Including the penalty kick in the first half, DSU found itself on the wrong side of multiple questionable calls by the referee throughout the game. Head coach Danny Ortiz expressed his frustrations with the officiating.
“I don’t think [APU] beat us today,” he said. “There was another group of people out here today that made the decisions, and that made the difference.”
Despite the result, Ortiz was pleased with his team’s performance and the outlook for the rest of the season.
“We just need to show up next Saturday and play hard again,” he said. “There are no adjustments that need to be made.”
Lawhun praised the performance of Steed.
“Jordan’s been busting his butt every day, he works harder than anyone I know,” he said. “Coach always tells us to follow up, and that’s exactly what he did. He was at the right spot at the right time and had a good finish.”
The loss drops DSU to 2-8-3 on the season. The Red Storm conclude the home portion of the conference schedule Saturday against Point Loma Nazarene University. Kickoff is set for 11:30 a.m. at Hansen Stadium. Admission to the game is free for students.