Pima Women’s soccer controls second half to beat Arizona Western

Nayeli Vidal passes the ball in Pima’s Thursday night game against Arizona Western. (Kevin Murphy)

After trailing to 2-1 early in the second half, the Pima Aztecs scored four consecutive goals to win the match against the Arizona Western Matadors. Three of the four goals scored by the Aztecs in the second half occurred within a 10-minute time span.

The explosive second half on offense paired with an intensified defensive effort in the period were the deciding factors in the victory for Pima.

Arizona Western got on the board first with a goal on a penalty kick by freshman center back Paulina Fierro in the 13th minute. Freshman midfielder Nayeli Vidal (Sahuaro) then tied the game for the Aztecs at 1-1 by scoring a goal in the 33rd minute. Five minutes into the second half, sophomore forward Raheal Aka-Ety scored a breakaway goal for Arizona Western, giving the Matadors a 2-1 lead. In the 53rd minute, freshman midfielder Alyssa Kopach (Ironwood Ridge) tied the game back up at 2-2. From there, Pima went on to score three consecutive goals from freshman defender Briannah Gerhart (Tanque Verde), freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Bassett (Sabino), and freshman forward Alejandra Ramirez (Marana) in a span of under 10 minutes to seal the deal for the Aztecs. Kopach and Vidal each had an assist in the game as well.

Basset explains how current and former coaches have helped to improve her soccer skills. (Kevin Murphy)

Bassett credited her former Tanque Verde Soccer club coaches Matt Flores and Jason Flores, as well as the Pima coaching staff for developing her skills on the soccer field.

“I would credit Matt and Jason Flores because they always told me to focus on my mentality, keeping up the hard work, and making sure that you’re pushing through even when it’s 110 degrees outside, and you just want to quit,” said Bassett.

“They’ve (Pima coaching staff) pushed me in the same ways that Matt and Jason have, and they probably push me a lot more just because it’s college soccer, you want to compete harder, you want to work harder and try and be the best.”

Franco comments on the coaches who have motivated her to be a leader. (Kevin Murphy)

After a solid defensive effort in the match, sophomore defensive midfielder Valentina Franco attributed her success on the field to FC Tucson Youth Soccer club coach Lisa Frazier, Tucson High head women’s soccer coach Dave Gutierrez, and Pima head coach Kendra Veliz.

“Lisa Frasier made a great impact on me,” Franco said. “She strengthened me as a woman and as a player.”

“Dave Gutierrez coached me at Tucson High, and he’s always been there right behind me supporting me through all my injuries, and of course Kendra as well,” said Franco.

“I’ve learned so much from her (Veliz). Honestly, as a person she’s so strong, and she just inspires me to keep going, and to really fight, and to be the leader I am today.”

Veliz in a coaching moment with her team at halftime on Thursday night against Arizona Western. (Kevin Murphy)

Pima head coach Kendra Veliz gave credit to the team for their resilience during the game and throughout the season thus far.

“One of the things that I’ve noticed in the games we’ve had about this team in particular is that they never give up, they’re always fighting to come back”, Veliz said. “That’s one of their best qualities I’ve seen at this point.”

The durability that Pima displayed on Thursday night is not just a one-off, and can only help the Aztecs as they head into the final four games of a regular season schedule shortened by Covid-19 protocols.

Pima plays Phoenix College next on Thursday April, 22 at Aztec Soccer Field at Chapman Auto Sports Complex on the West Campus.


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.

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