Story, Photo and Video by James Kelley
A few hours after winning big when conference awards were announced on Oct. 25, the Pima Community College men’s soccer team certainly showed they deserve the accolades.
The third-seeded Aztecs (16-5) routed sixth-seeded Scottsdale Community College 3-0 on Oct. 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 a few minutes later.
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 that was scored 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.
The game was Oct. 27, but the results were unavailable at press time. For playoff updates, go to AztecPressOnline.com and Twitter.com/AztecSports.
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 also named first team All-ACCAC and All-Region 1 first team, joined by Kane on both of the squads. Toia and freshman defender Eric Glad were named second team All-ACCAC.
Vu also won the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference scoring title with 39 points, 15 goals and nine assists. Vu, a second team 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. Toia and freshman forward Donny Blake Brennen scored Pima’s goals. Freshman forward Alex Anderson got the assist on both goals.
Vu credits winning the Phoenix game with helping PCC beat Scottsdale two days later.
“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 game against Phoenix was Toia’s third in a row with a goal. Gastelum made two saves in earning the shutout.
Pima snapped its brief two-game losing streak on Oct. 20 in dominant fashion with a 6-2 win at Glendale Community College. Toia led the way for the Aztecs with two goals and an assist.
The Aztecs’ loss to Yavapai came on Oct. 18 by a margin of 4-2. Toia scored a goal, giving him a point in six straight games. Kane had the assist. Freshman defender Bryce Parker scored Pima’s other goal.
On Oct. 16, the last time Pima played Scottsdale, they lost 2-1 at West Campus. Kane scored the Aztec goal off an assist by Anderson. Kane’s goal was his eighth in the last five games.
“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.”
Follow us on Twitter for sports news and scores