The No. 1-seeded Pima Community College men’s soccer team defeated No. 4 Chandler-Gilbert Community College 5-1 on Thursday in the NJCAA Region I, Division II semifinals.
Pima (9-1) will host No. 2 Phoenix College (10-2) on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Aztec Soccer Field in the region finals. Phoenix College dealt the Aztecs their only loss of the season in a 1-0 match on April 24.
The Aztecs have consistently dominated on offense and defense while maintaining a level-headed approach throughout the season.
“It’s just consistency,” said sophomore Sam Lossou (Rincon/University graduate), who earned All-ACCAC and All-Region honors on Wednesday. “Especially this week since it’s the playoffs, we like to practice good so once we get into the game it’s easier for us to move the ball around and play the way we want to play.”
It took the Aztecs until the 32nd minute mark to score the first goal of the match when sophomore Manuel Quiroz (Sunnyside) scored on a penalty kick. Another former Blue Devil, sophomore Ulysses Torres added a goal in the 44th minute and was assisted by sophomore Zak Mohamed (Rincon/University), which put Pima up 2-0 on the Coyotes at halftime.
Less than 30 seconds into the second half, sophomore Seungeon Kim scored a goal that was assisted by sophomore Francisco Manzo (Salpointe Catholic) which was followed by a goals from Quiroz (penalty kick) in the 54th minute, and Lossou in the 62nd minute before Chandler-Gilbert scored its lone goal in the 75th minute. The goal prompted the usually even-keeled Dave Cosgrove to verbally let his team have it.
Cosgrove, who was awarded his seventh ACCAC Coach of the Year award on Wednesday, described the Aztecs’ slow start on offense and explained how the team was able to implement its game plan coming off a week in which their last game of the regular season was cancelled followed by a first-round bye in the playoffs.
“We just had to find our rhythm,” Cosgrove said. “We haven’t played in a week and also they (Chandler-Gilbert) played on Tuesday so they were a little tired, so I think as we kept pressing them and making them work, they just got a little bit slower to every ball so we had a little bit more room.
“We talked about that, we just wanted to keep pressure on them the whole time.”
Cosgrove described how the Aztecs were able to take complete control of the match coming out of the halftime break.
“We talked about the next goal was going to be really important, and of course we got it within like 40 seconds, and I think, really, at that point the game was over,” said Cosgrove. “Chandler-Gilbert’s tired, they don’t have a ton of subs, and down 3-0, not likely that they were going to come back.
“That third goal, I think really just effectively killed the game off.”
In typical Cosgrove fashion, he humbly brushed off any credit for being named the ACCAC’s top coach of the season for a seventh time at Pima.
“It tells you how long I’ve been here. It’s kind of one of those things, they have to give it to me every once in a while because I’ve been here so long,” he said. “It’s nice to hear, but the reality is I have really good coaches who have been with me for a long time that are fantastic. We have terrific support from our school, and even our sponsors like Chapman (Chapman Automotive) have been really good, especially during this time, at making sure our athletic program and the men’s soccer program in particular can be as successful as possible.
“And of course the end is, we have good players. Good players make coaches look good.”
Kim, who is originally from Seoul, South Korea, and was named ACCAC player of the year and earned All-ACCAC as well as All-Region honors on Wednesday, took a page out of Cosgrove’s book and humbly credited the coaching staff and his teammates for the accolades.
“The coach believed in me before the season,” said Kim. “Last season, I got shoulder surgery, so I didn’t play 100 percent. Coach Dave and coach Javi (Javier Holguin), and coach AJ (Valenzuela) just believed in me, and they motivate me so much.
“Every teammate just helped me. I would say, ‘Thank you’ for every teammate.”
FOLLOW @KEVINMURFEE ON TWITTER!
ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com writing intern Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. He is currently attending Pima Community College where he writes for the Aztec Press. Next semester he will be attending the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU where he will work towards a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies.