By Alex Jimenez
The Pima Community College men’s soccer team is set to take on Phoenix College in its opening game of the 2021-2022 season at 8 p.m. Saturday at Kino North Grandstand.
The rivalry is a must-watch game every season and a rematch of last season’s Region I Championship game.
“The biggest obstacle every year is Phoenix College,” said Pima’s men’s soccer coach David Cosgrove. “They are a really difficult opponent to come out on.
“Phoenix College has the ability to change our style and change our tactics, they’re very organized and work extremely hard… They have very good individual players, athletic and technical. We need to be disciplined defensively and organized in transition.”
Both schools have cemented themselves as two of the top soccer programs in NJCAA’s DII year in and year out and this season is no exception. PCC currently ranks as the No. 3 school in the country, and Phoenix College is ranked No. 12 in NJCAA’s Preseason Poll.
“They could easily be ranked in the top 10,” Cosgrove said. “If we play well, we can still dictate the pace of the game and play our style.”
The matchups with Phoenix College have been nail-biters over the past couple of years. Since the 2018-2019 season, all of Pima versus Phoenix’s regular season games have been decided by just one goal. In that time PCC has a record of 2-3 against the Bears, including a loss earlier this April.
Just a few months later, Pima was able to redeem itself in that loss by beating Phoenix College in the Region I Championship game in May by a score of 2-0.
Following the Region I Championship win, PCC won its first two games at the National Championship only to eventually fall to Southeastern in the semi-final.
Although they came up short, the goal this season has not changed.
“I want to put the team first and win the National Championship. Last year we got pretty close, getting to the National semi-final,” said sophomore forward Brain Vu. “Obviously this season is no different. We want to try to get back there, but we gotta take it game by game, and it’s not gonna be easy.”