Pima Community College sports

Pima women advance to NJCAA Region I, Division II championship

Pima celebrates its semifinal win in the NJCAA Region I, Division II playoffs (Ray Suarez/Pima College)

Information provided by Ray Suarez of the Pima media-relations department

The No. 3-seeded Pima women’s soccer team kept its season alive Tuesday with a 3-2 win on the road against No. 2 Scottsdale in an NJCAA Region I, Division II semifinal match.

The Aztecs (8-6-2) rallied in the first half and broke a tie with under 10 minutes to play to beat the Artichokes (11-5-2) to advance to the NJCAA Region I, Division II finals.

This is the fourth straight year the Aztecs have reached the Region I finals. They eliminated Scottsdale in the semifinal round in all four years.

Pima will play the winner of No. 1 seed Phoenix College and No. 4 seed Chandler-Gilbert Community College on Saturday. The higher seed will host so Pima will host if Chandler-Gilbert wins.

Down 1-0 on Tuesday, the Aztecs got a boost from sophomore Juliana Valdez (Tucson), who scored off a rebounded ball in the box to tie the game in the 26th minute.

Freshman Lizzie Walker (Canyon del Oro) put the Aztecs ahead for the first time when she scored off of a cross pass from freshman Solaris Graves (Ironwood Ridge) in the 60th minute to make it 2-1.

The Artichokes tied the game at 2-2 five minutes later when Shayla Hunt scored her second goal of the game in the 65th minute. She netted her first goal in the 2nd minute.

Graves put the Aztecs up for good when she hit a shot that went through the left corner of the net in the 81st minute. Sophomore Sydney Yebra (Tucson) provided the assist.

“I got a pass in the center and was able to turn a girl and I hit it to the left corner of the goal. It was a shot in the dark but it ended up going in. I’m really happy about that and I think everyone else is too,” Graves said. “I think this is a good set up (to the Region Finals) and if we just keep this confidence going, then we have a good chance to keep on going.”

Sophomore goalkeeper Adriana Pacheco (Cienega) finished the match with eight saves. She had five in the first half.

“It was an unlucky goal (2nd minute), I thought there was something I could have done but we moved forward from that, and my mind set was ‘nothing else going in,’” Pacheco said. “Just putting in that work and making sure I try to stop every ball. They (Scottsdale) had some good shooters, but we worked out of it.

“In the first half, they did come at me a little bit more (more 1v1s) and more crosses. In the second half, they slowed down, and our team locked in mentally preparing for the crosses. We worked through it.”

·Pima coach Kendra Veliz emphasized that this was the type of game her team needed to advance.

“We started off slow and that was unfortunate. Scottsdale got a quick goal. The No. 1 rule in soccer is to be ready and we did not come out ready,” Veliz said. “It took us to halftime where I could get my claws into them and get them onboard with what we were trying to do and where we were at.

“We needed this win to gain the confidence. I’m not sure if they totally believed it was possible; for us to take this game. We had two close games with Scottsdale and only a 2-0 result with Phoenix College. They needed this win to help them believe that they can do it.”.

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