By COREY McMULLEN
The No. 5-ranked Aztecs’ season came to an end in a 1-0 loss to No. 4-ranked Arizona Western Community College in the Regional I quarterfinals.
The first half ended with both teams scoreless as both teams put on a defensive clinic, but in the 77th minute of play, Arizona Western midfielder Tyra McKenzie scored the only goal of the match to eliminate the Aztecs.
Coach Kendra Veliz admitted being disappointed in the season coming to an end, but she did say how they accomplished two of their goals: having a winning season and making the playoffs.
“With two games left in the season, we had a chance to win the conference so that was exciting,” Veliz said. “Unfortunately, towards the end of our season, we tied and lost our final games, which is definitely not how I wanted to end the season.”
The Aztecs were plagued with injuries all season having two players red-shirt with ACL injuries and not having other key players return until midway in because of injuries.
Pima Sports Information Officer Raymond Suarez believes that the Aztecs will bounce back next year.
“Kenda will bring in the right recruits,” Suarez said. “She’ll reload, and I think they will make another run at regionals and hopefully nationals.”
The Aztecs finished with a 9-7-1 record; 6-3-1 of that from conference play. The Aztecs out-scored their opponents on the season 53-20 averaging 10 shots on goal a game and averaging 3.12 goals per game.
After going on a seven-game win streak, the Aztecs hit a rough patch and finished their final five games 0-4-1.
With losing 12 players, the Aztecs will have team captain Valentia Franco returning for her sophomore season.
Four Aztecs did make All-ACCAC and All-Regional teams. Sophomore defender Brianna Lewis made first team All-ACCAC/NJCAA Region I, while freshman forward Savannah Samorano, freshman midfielder Valentina Franco and sophomore defender Taylor Gutierrez all made second team All-ACCAC/NJCAA Region I.