By DIEGO LOZANO III
As the Pima Community College women’s soccer team enters the mid-point of the season, a schedule with most games away from home does not scream good news.
The women slunk out to a shaky start in their first four games, splitting them at 2-2. If that was any signal of what was to come, then it was a spot-on indicator thus far.
Head coach Kendra Veliz expected her crew to face a learning curve but slightly above .500 in the wins column may not have been in her forecast.
Owning a record of 6-5-1, with the last seven of their eight remaining games within conference play, the Aztec women will need to channel a sense of urgency to sustain any thought of post-season contention.
Making a push
After dropping games to both the Mesa and Scottsdale Community College squads, the Aztecs responded by winning consecutive games against Glendale and Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
A second-half barrage of shots capped a 3-1 victory over Chandler-Gilbert on Sept. 28 in Chandler.
Sophomores Gisel Duarte and Kalle Smith rallied the troops after a 1-1 score at the half. Each struck net to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Freshman forward Larissa Adams lifted Pima on the scoreboard first.
Duarte has scored in each of the Pima’s last two wins and hopes her teammates can maintain their momentum.
“Just staying as a team and working like we did,” she said. “We were, like, really bad, playing horrible.”
Their 5-0 blowout over Glendale on Sept. 26 proved to have ignited their competitive spirits. The outspill of offense avenged their first loss of the season against the Gauchos.
PCC controlled possession from the opening whistle. Sophomore Ashley Cardenas knocked down a shot 12 minutes into the contest, and Pima was up 2-0 by halftime.
Freshman Rachel Ridlinghafer provided a pair of goals by the final whistle, scoring in the 29th and 78th minutes of play.
Kamree Cady, a sophomore forward, and Duarte rounded out the second-half scores in the 52th and 88th minute.
Duarte felt execution was the tale of their triumph.
“We played good last time but we actually finished everything we got,” she said. “I think it’s a good start to the second half of the season.”
Struggling to score
Home field advantage is supposed to benefit the home squad but the disadvantage has gone to the Aztecs as of late. They were shut out in their last two outings at the Kino North Grandstand.
Scottsdale Community College ran the field against PCC on Sept. 21 in a 3-0 heartbreaker. The Artichokes rejected all Pima attempts at the goal and opened their lead in the closing half with two morale-depleting scores.
Pima had multiple cracks at the scoreboard against Mesa Community College on Sept. 19 but instead gave up shots at the net in a 2-0 setback.
The women were able to muster four attempts at the opposing goal but failed to capitalize on all tries.
With six of their final eight games kickingoff at venues not named Kino North Grandstand, the Aztecs will need to continue their winning formula on the road.
The Aztecs were scheduled to make their way to Sierra Vista for a shot at redemption against Cochise College on Oct. 3, after Aztec Press was sent to the printer.
Oct. 3: @ Cochise College, Sierra Vista, 2 p.m.
Oct. 5: South Mountain CC, Kino North, 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 10: @ GateWay CC, Phoenix, 4:30 p.m.
Oct. 12: @ Paradise Valley CC, Phoenix, noon