By BETO HOYOS
Three games into the season, the Pima Community College men’s soccer team remained undefeated. The No. 19-ranked Aztecs beat No. 9 Phoenix College 2-1 at home in a comeback thriller on Aug. 29. Phoenix College scored first in the 26th minute.
The Aztecs had a hard time breaking down the defense and remained down at halftime. In the second half, the Aztecs brought their aggressive side to the field. Sophomore midfielder Arturo Vega hit a free kick to tie the game in the 51st minute.
Freshman forward Rene Huerta was in the right place at the right time when he scored the game-winning goal in the 94th minute off a deflection. Freshman goalkeeper Sam Kavathas secured five saves for the Aztecs. Both teams had four shots on goal.
Last season, the team advanced to the semifinals of the Region I playoffs before losing to long-time nemesis Yavapai College.
This season, the Aztecs say they are more focused. “We expect to compete,” head coach David Cosgrove said. “Our goal is always the same, to compete for a region and a national title.” The coach spent the early season looking for weaknesses and aspects that need improvement, but said he is confident his team will get better. “Our movement of the ball wasn’t up to speed and our fitness wasn’t quite there,” he said. “It’s a long season and we’ll just keep improving.”
The Aztecs won an Aug. 28 home opener against South Mountain Community College by a score of 1-0. Sophomore midfielder Christian Garcia-Cabello scored the only goal of the game off a deflection in the 18th minute with an assist from freshman forward Alejandro Gonzalez. The Pima defense did not allow a single shot on goal.
The Aztecs had 10 shots on goal, including eight in the first half. The Aztecs opened the season Aug. 22 with a 3-0 victory over Arizona Western College in Yuma. “Yuma has a very good team, second or third in the conference, so getting a win against a team like that is always a confidence booster,” Cosgrove said.
Vega got the Aztecs on the board in the 33rd minute and the Aztecs held a 1-0 lead going into halftime. In the 61st minute, freshman midfielder Santiago Carrillo gave the Aztecs a 2-0 lead. Shortly after, freshman midfielder Ryan Bristow scored the Aztecs’ third goal.
Cosgrove said he expects strong play from sophomores Christian Garcia and Vega, who are both former Tucson All City high school players. Carrillo has also caught his attention. “Fans should come out and support us because we have a top 20 program here and we’re ready to bring soccer back in a big way,” Cosgrove said.