By KYLE MCDANIEL
The Aztecs previously were 0-2 in national title games before their win on Nov. 17.
However, State Fair College who beat them in 1999 vacated its title.
Sophomore Hugo Kametani was voted MVP of the tournament after scoring three consecutive game winners. Coach David Cosgrove received the Coach of the Tournament award for leading the Aztecs.
Both certainly deserved the awards after the season and national tournament they had.
The season was full of drama, with the team playing in six overtime games this year, including the championship game.
“Honestly, we had played so many and had been so successful, and of course the fact is we had Hugo, who scored four game winners,” Cosgrove said. “We felt confident going in and we felt like if anyone was going to make a play, it’s usually the best player on the field and we had that with Hugo, and he delivered every time.
“I was really happy, especially with the players, I think they accomplished so much this year and set so many records and that last piece of hardware and last win topped the whole season.”
Nov. 17 National Championship: Barton CC 1, PCC 2
The first half of the game went back and forth, with no clear-cut chances for either side. Then in the second half, the game burst into life.
Starting in the 63rd minute when the Cougars were awarded a penalty for a handball, they promptly put it in the back of the net. Just when you thought that was bad enough for the Aztecs, freshman Javier Vega was sent off after receiving a red card for a crunching tackle.
That’s when the Aztecs needed to show the toughness they had all season. Sophomore Isaias German brought Pima back from the brink of defeat with an excellent curling shot into the bottom corner to even the score at 1-1.
The game headed to overtime, where it would again be golden goal. With four minutes left in overtime, Kametani chased after a 50/50 ball with the keeper. Stretching out a leg, he was able to clip it over the keeper, while getting clobbered in the process. The ball graced the back of the net, giving Pima its first national title.
“That was a tough situation, cause Barton who we played was very good and that was on the kids,” Cosgrove said. “We got them reorganized a bit, but they picked up their energy level and started to compete. Oftentimes you see where you give up 2, 3 goals, and the game gets out of hand. Which again goes back to the greatest attribute we had, which was character. The kids showed unbelievable character in that moment.”
Nov. 16 National Semifinal: Monroe College 0, PCC 1
The game was tightly contested throughout, as both teams understood what was on the line.
Monroe outshot the Aztecs 11 to 5, but thanks to some quick feet and dribbling past the defender from freshman Ricky Gordillo, Pima was awarded a penalty halfway through the second half.
That turned out to be the decisive goal, sending the Aztecs to the national championship game. Kametani stepped up and buried the spot kick.
The defense was able to keep Monroe from scoring, including 6 saves from the keeper freshman Nils Roth.
Nov. 14: Muskegon CC 2, PCC 3 F/OT
The Aztecs took the lead twice against the Jayhawks, and both times Muskegon tied the game.
Kametani proved the difference in the game with a brace. In the 11th minute, he buried a free kick. He also scored the game winner in overtime after 3 minutes.
Sophomore Jacob Pacheco scored the second of the 3 goals in the game early into the second half.
The Aztecs nearly tripled their opponents’ shots, as they outshot the Jayhawks 15 to 6. The game was also very stop-start as there were a combined 29 fouls.