It was the season opener for both clubs. The Cougars and Lady Flames met for the 10th time. Both were NAIA powers before each university decided to make the move to NCAA Division II. In fact, Lee knocked Azusa out of the NAIA national tournament in 2010 and 2011, but the Cougars still hold a 6-4 edge in the series.
The Lady Flames grabbed an early lead when Chloe Rader scored on a penalty kick at the 14:22 mark. Azusa tied the match at 1-all when Mayra Almazan scored with the clock reading 27:59, and then the Cougars stunned Lee with a another goal at the 28:50 mark when Katelyn Rogers slammed home a header off an assist from Almazan.
Lee had several scoring opportunities and tallied 16 shots, placing nine on goal. The defensive-minded Cougars took 12 shots and had six on target.
Azusa keeper Sarah Klinkenburg was credited with eight saves, and five came in the first 45 minutes. Lee freshman goalie Haley Gribler turned in four saves in her first career start as a Lady Flame.
Lee will continue the Southern California adventure on Saturday, moving up to Westmont College for a 4 p.m. EDT start. The Lady Flames will open their home season one week from Friday, hosting Emory University in the annual Kickin' It For Kids With Cancer match.