By MARIA ANGULO
After a strong playoff run last season, the Pima Community College women’s soccer team opened the season ranked ninth nationally by NJCAA.
The Aztecs posted an overall record of 21-2-1 last year. Their season ended with a loss to Florida State in the second round of the national semifinals.
Kendra Veliz will continue her work as head coach.
“As far as last year, we met every goal we set for ourselves,” she said. “Our goal was to reach nationals and win our first game, because the previous year we lost our first game.”
Seven new players have joined the team this season.
“I am happy with the freshman class coming in,” Veliz said. “I think there’s a lot of talent there.”
Aug. 23: PCC 0, Paradise Valley CC 1
The Aztecs had a rocky start in their first game at 10th-ranked Paradise Valley Community College, losing 1-0.
It was the first game between the teams since last year’s Region I, Division I playoff. Pima won the 2015 game 2-1 and advanced to the NJCAA national tournament.
Aug. 27: PCC 4, South Mountain CC 0
The Aztecs won 4-0 when they hosted their first home game at Kino North Grandstand against the Cougars of South Mountain Community College.
Freshman Alexis Hernandez scored in the 27th minute and sophomore Maria Delgadillo scored three minutes later.
Sophomore forward Shania Pablo sealed the game with two second-half goals.
Both of the team’s goalkeepers played, with sophomore Daniela Sanchez playing the first half and freshman Tara Kase playing the second.
Aug. 30: PCC 3, Phoenix CC 1
Pima hosted a tight game against the Bears of Phoenix College on Aug. 30, but prevailed 3-1.
The Aztecs score twice in the first half with goals by Pablo and sophomore Destiny Jones.
The Bears tried bouncing back, scoring in the 78th minute.
Pima scored its third goal after sophomore Maury Urcadez was fouled inside the penalty area. Jones scored on the resulting penalty shot.
“We set our goals pre-season,” head coach Kendra Veliz said. “One of our pre-season goals was to win our home games.”
The team may still see many changes in alignment, according to Veliz.
“We’ve been struggling with injuries but we are hoping to get everybody some playing time so everybody adapts to the system we are playing,” she said.
Sept. 3: PCC 2, Cochise College 0
The Aztecs defeated the Cochise College Apaches in Douglas, 2-0.
Both goals came in the first half as Delgadillo scored in the 30th and 33rd minutes.
The goalkeepers again split playing time, with Sanchez registering two saves in the first half and Kase making two saves in the second half.
Sept. 6: PCC 0, Scottsdale CC 1
The Aztecs suffered their second loss when they played their third away-game of the season against the Artichokes of Scottsdale Community College.
With the score 0-0 at the end of regulation, the game went to overtime. The Artichokes scored the winning goal four minutes into the second overtime period, to remain unbeaten for the season.
Sept. 8: PCC 5, GateWay CC 0
In a home game at Kino North Grandstand, the Aztecs won with authority against the Geckos of GateWay Community College.
The Aztecs opened scoring in the first half with goals by Pablo in the 19th minute and by Hernandez in the 24th minute.
The team scored three more goals in the second half, from freshman Daelyn Mayer in the 56th minute, Pablo in the 67th and freshman Jahnmonique Smith in the 73rd.
The Geckos had two shots on goal, compared to 19 goal-scoring opportunities by the Aztecs.
Sept. 10: PCC 1, Chandler-Gilbert CC 3
The Aztecs lost their third game of the season on the road against the Coyotes of Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
Pima scored first with a goal by sophomore Sonia Garcia in the 14th minute, but the Coyotes bounced back, scoring twice in the first half. They secured the win with another goal in the second half.
Sept. 20: at Mesa CC, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22: at Arizona West College, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24: Paradise Valley CC, Kino Sports Complex, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at South Mountain CC, 3:30 p.m.