Pima Community College sports

Pima men’s soccer wins second national championship

The 2021 Pima Aztecs men’s soccer team can now call itself national champions after winning an overtime thriller Saturday at Wichita, Kan., against the CCBC Essex (Md.) Knights on penalty kicks by a score of 3-2.

It was tied, 3-3 in penalty kicks when Juan Suarez (Desert View grad) saved the biggest shot of the season for his team. Pima found itself with an opportunity to win the match with a final goal scored.

Salpointe grad Francisco Manzo, who scored the first goal earlier in the match, was up to the challenge.

CCBC Essex’ goal keeper guessed right on the direction the ball was going. Manzo put it just far enough out of reach to hit the back left corner of the net, allowing the Aztecs to win the 2021 national championship.

They also achieved a title in 2018 under coach David Cosgrove.

Manzo was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. Suarez and Ulysses Torres (Sunnyside) were named to the all-tournament team.

The second half was a highly competitive one. despite both teams attempting multiple shots, neither was able to score, putting the match into ‘Golden Goal’ time.

Golden Goal time is when an extra 10 minute half is added at the end of a match if it is still tied. The team that scores next is the winner.

If it is still tied after 10 minutes, another half is to be played with the same rules. The match is then determined by penalty kicks if the second 10-minute half ends in a tie.

Both CCBC Essex and Pima were unable to score inside of both extra periods. The winner of the match was determined by penalty kicks.

It did not take long for the Aztecs to get their offense rolling. at the 42-minute mark in the first half of the match, Manzo scored the goal after being assisted by Jacob Garcia (Walden Grove) with a long upfield pass, giving Pima the 1-0 lead.

CCBC Essex answered back at 24:33 with a solo goal by Toga Katsuma. He juked a couple of defenders and shot from beyond the penalty box and right past Suarez.

Katsuma’s day of scoring was not done there. He received the ball from his teammate and ran past three defenders to sneak the ball past Suarez into the corner of the goal, earning him the brace and a 2-1 lead.

Pima had just enough time for one more goal before the end of the first half. With 21 seconds left, Minho Cha received a goal kick from Suarez, kicked it over the goal keeper and headed it in to equalize the match at 2-2.


Nathaniel Martinez is an aspiring sports journalist who is a Sahuaro High School graduate and Pima Community College student. He has written for the Aztec Press at Pima. While at Sahuaro, he played football for longtime coach Scott McKee and he wrestled for the Cougars.

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