Story, Photo and Video by James Kelley
The Pima Community College men’s soccer team wasting no time in showing they deserved the long list of accolades they received on Monday.
The third-seeded Aztecs (16-5) routed sixth-seeded Scottsdale Community College 3-0 on Sept. 25 in the quarterfinals of the National Junior College Athletic Association Region 1 tournament.
Pima head coach Dave Cosgrove, who won Region 1 Coach of the Year, said the Aztecs settled down in the second half after struggling in the first. They also had to deal with substantial wind.
“For a while there it looked like we never were going to score, but once we got the first one, it came a little bit easier,” Cosgrove said. “I think it was, especially with the second half, a fair result.”
Freshman forward Donny Toia broke the deadlock in the 60th minute off an assist by Region 1 Player of the year and sophomore forward Minh Vu. Freshman defender Kolby Jacobson scored the second goal off a throw-in by sophomore defender Matt Kappas.
Freshman forward Yaya Kane scored the third goal on a SportsCenter type play where he dribbled right through the SCC defense. Freshman goalkeeper Miko Gastelum scored the shutout with five saves.
Kane said the goal by Toia served to “help us to open the game.”
The Aztecs now face a rough road to the championship though. They’ll face community college soccer super power No. 12 Yavapai College (15-4-1) on the road in the semifinals.
Second-seeded Yavapai has won seven national championships and boasts an almost perfect record at home in the postseason.
“It’s a great environment, they got a great home field advantage and a very good team,” Cosgrove said. “In 20 years they have lost one time in the playoffs up there, so it’s a monumental task, but I think if we play well and our kids take their chances and finish well, we can play with anybody in our conference and in the country.”
During the regular season, the Aztecs and Roughriders split, with Pima winning 1-0 in Tucson on Sept. 6 and Yavapai winning 4-2 in Prescott on Oct. 18. Pima’s last five seasons have ended with losses at Yavapai in the playoffs.
“I feel very confident, because we beat them at home and we lost to them over there, but I think we dominated over there,” Vu said. “I feel confident about playing them again.”
Vu was named first team All-ACCAC and All-Region 1 first team, joined by Kane on both all-star squads. Toia and freshman defender Eric Glad were named to the second team of the All-ACCAC.
Vu also won the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference scoring title with 39 points, 15 goals and nine assists. Vu, an All-American last year, said winning player of the year was “exciting.”
“I think it’s the body of work, not only this year but over the last two years he’s been just dynamic like for us,” Cosgrove said. “He scores big goals, he steps up in the biggest environments. So I think it is well deserved and to be honest I wasn’t surprised.”
The Aztecs closed out the regular season Oct. 23 with a 2-0 win at Phoenix College.
“As a team we felt very confident coming in,” Vu said. “We got the big win against Phoenix and we wanted to play at home, and we got the big win. We are taking it one game at a time.”
The win avenged an earlier 2-1 home loss to on Oct. 16 Scottsdale, they lost 2-1 at West Campus.
“I think we took our chances in the second half,” Cosgrove said Oct. 25. “The last time we played them, we had the same amount of quality chances and we didn’t make them.
“This is the time of year if you do that then you are going to lose, but today we got that first one. Then once we got the second one, it got very comfortable for us and obviously the third one just put the icing on the cake.”
Semifinals: Wednesday, Oct. 27
Championship: Saturday, Oct. 30 at higher seed