By CALEB FOSTER
The Pima Community College men’s soccer team (20-4-1) claimed the West District title on Nov. 8 and will play as the No. 5 seed in the NJCAA National Tournament Nov. 18-23 at Yavapai College in Prescott.
“We always focus on doing our best and working hard,” sophomore Arturo Vega said. “The thing we focus on the most is playing our style of play.”
No. 9 Pima beat a Colorado team, No. 5 Trinidad State Junior College, 1-0 in their last home game of the season.
The Aztecs found themselves in a defensive battle as the game remained scoreless for the first 88 minutes.
Freshman Santiago Carrillo came to the rescue when he scored Pima’s lone goal with 2:04 left on the clock. Carrillo scored on a penalty kick after freshman Gabe Zepp was fouled in the penalty box.
The Aztecs outshot Trinidad 6-4 in the victory and freshman goalkeeper Sam Kavathas had three saves on the night.
“We’re learning more about ourselves as we go on throughout the season” sophomore Christian Garcia-Cabello said.
The Aztecs earned their trip to the national tournament on Nov. 7 by beating another Colorado team, Otero Junior College, 1-0 in the West District semifinals.
Freshman Ryan Bristow scored off of a header in the fifth minute to give the Aztecs an early lead.
The defense took over the rest of the game, allowing only three shots on goal and none in the first half. Kavathas had three saves.
The Aztecs claimed the Region I, Division I championship title on Nov. 1 when they defeated No. 4 Phoenix College 2-1.
Phoenix College advanced to the championship game after upsetting No. 1 Yavapai College 2-1 in overtime on Oct. 30.
Freshman Hector Banegas scored in the 34th minute with a back-header off a throw-in from sophomore Garrett Andreatta.
Freshman Alejandro Gonzalez scored in the 47th minute, off a corner kick from Garcia-Cabello. Kavathas had four saves in the game, with two crucial saves in the 79th and 87th minutes. Pima’s defense held out late in the game to guarantee the win.
In the Region I, Division I semifinals game in Peoria on Oct. 30, Pima earned a 4-1 victory against Glendale Community College.
Freshman Alex Rojo had two goals, both off assists from Gonzalez. Rojo scored in the 37th minute to force a 1-1 tie, then scored again in the 67th minute off a cross-pass.
Carrillo scored on a penalty kick to in the 52nd minute to start the second half. Vega scored the insurance goal in the 79th minute off an assist from Rojo.