Editor’s note: the Aztecs entered the rankings at No. 8 on Sept. 15
Story and video by James Kelley
Photos by Ed Adams
Despite a slew of injuries, the Pima Community College men’s soccer team is one goal short of an undefeated start.
On Sept. 13, the Aztecs (6-1 overall and in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference) rebounded from their first loss with a 2-1 win over GateWay Community College.
Sophomore forward Minh Vu had a hand in both Pima goals, scoring the first and earning an assist on the second. Likewise, freshman defender Bryce Parker scored the match-winning goal and got the assist on the first goal. Freshman goalkeeper Daniel Bacon made five saves.
“I’m obviously very happy, we are 6-1,” head coach Dave Cosgrove said. “Right now we sit on top of the league but there are four or five really good teams in this league, so there is a long way to go.”
PCC is first in the ACCAC with 18 points from its six wins. Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Arizona Western and Phoenix College also have only one loss.
No. 13 Arizona Western College snapped PCC’s season-opening five-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory at Pima on Sept. 11.
AWC scored the first goal but Vu responded with two goals in the first half. The Matadors scored two goals in the second half, including one late in the match to win it.
PCC played without star freshman forward Donny Toia, who was injured in a previous match.
“We were missing Donny and I stepped it up for the team,” Vu said. “I got two goals for us but they came back and scored a late goal to beat us. They’re a good team, we just let down in the second half.”
On Sept. 6, Pima secured a historic win, beating No. 5 Yavapai College 1-0. Over the last 22 years, the Roughriders have won seven national championships, made it to the national championship match 13 times, made it to the final four 17 times, won the Region in 19 of the last 22 years and won the ACCAC 21 times.
“It’s great, you are talking about the top team in the country year after year,” Cosgrove said about the win over Yavapai. “They have seven national championships and we did it mostly with just Tucson area kids.”
Toia scored the winner early in the first half off of a header assisted by midfielder Oscar Ortega.
“It was really exciting. We wanted that win, it put us into good shape,” Vu said. “We lost to Western but we are still in good shape.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Miko Gastelum earned the shutout, making three saves. In its history Yavapai has only lost 38 times and won 468 matches, going undefeated four times and losing only once six seasons.
Pima has suffered injuries to key players, including Toia. He was hit in the head by a Roughrider while scoring his goal, and had to go to the hospital. He is out at least two more weeks, pending a doctor’s visit this week.
“We’ve got massive injuries,” Cosgrove said. “In the 12 years I have been here, I’ve never seen the amount and severity of the injuries. But, it is part of the game and we thought that we had a pretty deep team to start with. The fact that we are 6-1 shows that we are.”
Freshman Yaya Kane missed the season’s first month because of Ramadan and then he injured his ankle in his second match. Cosgrove expects him to be at 100 percent in a couple of weeks.
“He’s not fit and sharp yet, but hopefully he is not hurt too bad,” Cosgrove said.
The Aztecs will now get a chance to heal a bit, thanks to a lighter than normal schedule.
“It’s going to get tough again,” Cosgrove said. “Thankfully we don’t have any more games this week until Saturday, which is a long stretch, and then we only play Wednesday and Saturday the next week, so these next two weeks are kind of slow in terms of games.”
Vu is off to a torrid start to the season. He is No. 22 in the country and leads the ACCAC in points with seven goals and five assists.
“I’m doing pretty good,” Vu said. “I’m on top of the leader board for the whole season in goals, most points in the league.”
Despite his injury, Toia is fifth in the ACCAC in points with three goals and one assist.
The Aztecs have had strong goalkeeping performances this year. Gastelum is No. 18 in the country in goals against average with a 0.56 mark, while Bacon is No. 22 with a GAA of 0.67.
On Sept. 8, PCC routed South Mountain Community College 4-0. Vu scored two goals.
Pima beat Paradise Valley Community College 4-1 on Sept. 4 in its first road trip. Freshman defender Eric Glad scored a goal in the first half. Vu scored his second goal of the season, while earning two assists.
Kane and Toia scored the other two Aztec goals. Bacon started at goalkeeper for Pima, where he made four saves.
On Sept. 1, the Aztecs won their first road match, 3-1 at Mesa Community College. Vu, Toia and Kane each scored a goal and had an assist to boot.
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