Story and photo by NATE MARTINEZ
The 2021 Pima Community College Men’s Soccer team can now call itself national champions.
The Aztecs won an overtime thriller Saturday at Wichita, Kansas, against the CCBC Essex Knights on penalty kicks by a score of 3-2.
The second half was highly competitive. Despite both teams attempting multiple shots, neither was able to score, putting the match into Golden Goal time.
Golden Goal time is when a 10-minute period of extra time is added at the end of a tied match. The team that scores next is the winner.
If the game is still tied after 10 minutes, another period of extra time is to be played with the same rules. The match is then determined by penalty kicks if the second 10 minutes of extra time 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.
The game was tied 3-3 in penalty kicks when goalkeeper Juan Suarez saved the biggest shot of the season for his team and Pima found itself with an opportunity to win the match with a final goal scored.
Francisco Manzo, who scored the first goal earlier in the match, was up to the challenge.
CCBC Essex’ goalkeeper guessed correctly 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 championship.
The team also achieved a title in 2018 under coach David Cosgrove.
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 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 finished. 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 goalkeeper and headed it in to equalize the match at 2-2.
Eventually, Pima won in overtime on penalty kicks, earning the Aztecs their second NJCAA Division II title in three years.