By ALEX JIMENEZ
Pima Community College men’s soccer (15-1, 8-1 ACCAC) beat Glendale Community College 4-2 in the Region I semifinal Wednesday to advance to the Region I final game.
Glendale scored in the 2nd minute to give the Vaqueros an early lead, but winger Jacob Garcia leveled the score in the 28th minute. Francisco “Esty” Manzo gave Pima a first half lead shortly after, but Glendale answered back in the 56th minute.
With the score tied at 2-2, defender and ACCAC Player of the Year Sam Lossou scored in the 69th minute to give the Aztecs a 3-2 lead, and Taein Ka doubled that lead to 4-2 just two minutes later.
No. 1 Pima will face No. 2 Phoenix College (9-6, 7-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the NJCAA Region I, Division II Finals at Aztec Soccer Field on West Campus.
“After that loss (against Arizona Western) it gave us a drive to work a lot harder in practice,” said Pima defender Saul Lopez.
“We’re not as good as we thought, it was definitely a wake-up call,” he continued. “We’re very familiar with them (Phoenix); we’re just gonna go out there and improve on the same thing we’ve been doing.”
This will be the third meeting between Pima and Phoenix, one of, if not the biggest, rivalry in the ACCAC.
The opening game of the season against Phoenix ended in a narrow 1-0 victory for the Aztecs. The second game between these two schools was in early October, when Manuel Quiroz scored a penalty in overtime to give Pima a second win over Phoenix.
If the two earlier matchups proved anything, regardless of who came out on top, it is that every game between them will be a close fight.
The winner of the Region I tournament will secure a spot in the 2021 NJCAA Division II Men’s Soccer Championship, which will take place Nov. 15-20 in Wichita, Kansas. The losing team could still progress through one of four at-large bids, an invitation from NJCAA.
“Winning this game means a lot,” Lopez said. “It gets us closer to our goal, which is to win the national tournament. That was the goal from the start of the season. We know this game is very important for what we want to accomplish this season.”