Pima Community College sports

Pima Aztecs advance to first national title match since 2018

Pima is a game away from a national title (Pima photo)

Information provided by the Pima media relations department:

The No. 2-seeded Pima Community College men’s soccer team is heading back to the NJCAA Division II national championship game for the first time since 2018 when the Aztecs won it all following Friday’s 2-0 win over No. 4 Georgia Military College at Wichita, Kan.

The Aztecs (18-1-1) close out the season on Saturday facing against No. 1 seed CCBC Essex (Maryland). Game time is set for 3 p.m. Tucson time.

Sophomore Francisco Manzo (Salpointe Catholic alum) put the Aztecs up 1-0 with his goal in the box in the 14th minute. The ball was headed away by the Bulldogs but right to Manzo who hit his shot to put Pima ahead early.

“Jacob (Garcia) crossed it in and Saul (Lopez) challenged for the ball. He lost it but it fell right to me and I just hit it to the corner,” Manzo said about his goal. “We knew we had to win to keep going. We came out and everyone worked their ass off. Even towards the end, we’re up 2-0 and everyone kept working back, doing their job and we got the job done. Our coaches did a great job. They found one of their players that we needed to stop and I think (Hyeonsang) Jang did an amazing job stopping him.”

Sophomore Lorenzo Nicolia added some insurance in the second half as he scored on a header inside the box in the 54th minute. He was set up by sophomore Saul Lopez (Cienega), who headed the ball right at Nicolia for the score.

Freshman defender Fernando Garate (Salpointe Catholic) talked about the defensive scheme the Aztecs had in place for the Bulldogs.

“Just to mostly hit them on the counters and shut down (#10 Nicolas Milot) and score goals. It is a big boost of confidence to get a shutout (at this point in the tournament),” Garate said. “We came out strong. We had one plan to not let any goals in and that’s what we did. We communicated in the back and stayed strong. This feels great. My first year here and this is all I can dream about.”

The Bulldogs outshot the Aztecs 15-9 in the game. Sophomore Juan Suarez (Desert View HS) finished with six saves.

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