By CHRISTIAN MORTENSEN
Editor’s Note: This story should have been published on October 5, 2017.
As the midway point in the season came and went, the Pima Community College Women’s Soccer team (8-4-1) can feel mostly good about the way they have played so far this year. The Aztecs currently sit in third place in the NJCAA Region 1 standings and with only seven games remaining before the start of the Regional Tournament, it would seem that Pima are in a good place to grab a top seed in the tournament and potentially a bye as well.
The Aztecs have been well-paced in attack so far by sophomores Alexis Hernandez and Jahmonique Smith, who have 13 and 10 goals, respectively. Midfielder Emily Gallagher, keeper Tara Kase and defenders Emily Bliven, Taylor Bigelow and Bailey Pedersen all have been standout performers for Pima as well.
Sept. 19: Pima CC 2, Mesa Community College 0
Returning home after three straight road games, Pima continued its run of good form by beating Mesa Community College 2-0.
It was a dream start for the Aztecs as they took the lead in only the fifth minute, when sophomore midfielder Gallagher powerfully headed home her second goal of the season. The goal came from a well-placed Pedersen corner kick.
Pima continued to put pressure on the Mesa goal after taking the early lead, and the team scored again in the 34th minute to double their advantage. It was freshman Kylee Martin’s first goal of the season and came off yet another Pedersen corner.
With her second assist of the half, the left back Pedersen brought her assist tally on the year to four, the most of any Aztec.
Pima played great defense throughout the second half and was able to hold onto its lead to secure the shutout victory. It was the Aztecs’ fourth clean sheet in five games.
Goal-scorer Martin was happy after the win.
“We came out pretty hard this game, and it feels amazing to win,” she said. “We just need to keep that going moving forward.”
Sept. 21: Pima CC 1, No. 18 Arizona Western College 3
Pima lost for the first time in six matches at home against the No. 18 team in the country, Arizona Western College.
The Aztecs almost had the lead in only the fifth minute when Hernandez went clean around the Arizona Western keeper to go one on one with the goal, but she fired wide of the mark to keep the score level at 0-0. .
Arizona Western made Pima pay for the miss just 13 minutes later when they scored in the 18th minute to take a 1-0 lead. The Aztecs struggled for the rest of the first half after conceding the goal and were lucky to go into halftime down only one goal.
The second half saw some better play from Pima, but the Aztecs found themselves trailing by two when Western scored again in the 58th minute.
Jahmonique Smith managed to score in the 64th minute to give Pima some hope of a comeback, but when Arizona Western scored for the third time in the 78th minute to make it 3-1, the Aztecs saw those hopes dashed.
Sept. 23: Pima CC 1, Paradise Valley CC 0
In their second match against the defending national champions, the Aztecs snatched a huge victory away from home at Paradise Valley to get back on track after their loss to Arizona Western.
Pima was defeated 3-1 at Kino in their very first game of the season by Paradise, but exacted revenge for the early season loss by returning the favor in Phoenix.
It was a tense match throughout as both teams created quality chances, but Smith’s goal in the 42nd minute proved to be the difference between the two sides. The goal came off an assist from Hernandez and marked the second consecutive game where Smith scored.
Pima keeper Tara Kase made six saves in the victory to keep her fifth clean sheet of the season.
Sept. 26: Pima CC 9, South Mountain CC 0
The Aztecs continued their winning ways after the loss to Arizona Western when they dominated South Mountain at Kino, 9-0 to win their second straight game.
Smith opened the scoring not even a minute into the match to seal her third consecutive game with a goal, and the Aztecs never looked back from there as they added eight more goals over the course of the game to seal the blowout win.
Daelyn Mayer, Destiny Kelly and Michelle Sigala all scored their first goals of the season, while Anna Verdugo, Hernandez and Smith each netted twice.
After the win, Smith was happy with how the team stayed focused throughout the blowout.
“Once you start getting four or five goals and they don’t have any, it can be hard to maintain the same focus and drive,” she said. “Today we kept challenging for every ball, and it showed in how well we played.”
Sept. 31: Pima CC 1, No. 6 Phoenix College 3
In their biggest game of the season and their second match against the unbeaten and No. 6 team in the country Phoenix College, Pima were defeated 3-1 at Kino.
It was an intense affair right from the opening kickoff, just as it has been when the two teams last played in Phoenix, where the Bears came back from 3-1 down in the 82nd minute to shock the Aztecs, 4-3.
Phoenix looked better than Pima early in the first half, continually possessing the ball in the Aztecs half of the field. But it was Pima who scored first, when sophomore Destiny Kelly scored in the 32nd minute after Aspen Kinzie chested the ball down to her in the Phoenix box. The goal marked the second straight game that the midfielder had scored.
Kelly had the ball in the back of the net again 10 minutes later for the Aztecs, seemingly to give Pima a huge two-goal advantage, but the goal was disallowed for offsides and the teams went into halftime with Pima still leading 1-0.
The Aztecs looked to protect their second half lead, which they couldn’t do in the first match in Phoenix, and did well to do so until Phoenix equalized in the 70th minute. Before Phoenix scored to make it 1-1, both sides were playing good soccer, but not three minutes after the game was tied up, Phoenix scored again to take the lead at 2-1.
They scored yet again in the 76th minute to make it 3-1 and to complete the Aztec’s misery. Phoenix scored three goals in a span of six minutes. It was another second half collapse from Pima against the top-10 Bears, and with the loss the Aztecs dropped to 8-4-1 on the season.