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Posted Oct 22, 2012, 9:03 am
In their final game before the playoffs, the Pima Community College Aztecs men's soccer team defeated the Fighting Artichokes of Scottsdale College 4-2 on Saturday afternoon at Aztec Field.
Since it was the last regular season game for Pima's sophomores, coach Dave Cosgrove started many of them. This put some players out of position, so defenders like Morgan Quintana and Tony Aguilar played in the midfield. The game also marked a rare start for Mauretanian striker Yahya Kane.
Although Kane didn't score, the unusual line-up paid off quickly when Kane crossed the ball to Quintana to put Pima on the scoreboard in the third minute of the match.
Pima pressed for a second goal, with Declan Fulton and Tyler Terrell, who came in for an injured Tony Aguilar, both having looks at goal. Scottsdale, however, took advantage of the space left open at the back and put together a counterattack. Scottsdale's forwards stymied the defense enough that an errant back pass slipped past keeper Ben Eyde to put the Artichokes level.
Pima continued to attack, with Kane tallying several more shots on Scottsdale's goal. In the waning seconds of the half, Kane blasted a shot and the Artichoke keeper batted it away, only to have an on rushing Chase Brennan pick it up and score.
The second half opened with another shot by Kane. Despite the shots from Kane and Fulton, Pima's first goal of the half came from Charlie Nitka. The defender picked up a shot from Fulton that had rebounded and delivered into the net for his first goal of the season.
"Declan couldn't finish off...luckily I was there to slide in," said Amphitheater High School graduate Nitka.
Nitka started the season injured but did manage appearances in 12 games. His start on Saturday was only his third.
Cosgrove called Nitka's goal "the brightest spot of the day."
"What a way to end his career before the playoffs," said Cosgrove. "Nothing but hard work, nothing but toughness, nothing but being in the right place at the right time and doing the right things. That's the way he's done both soccer and his academics. The kid's been disciplined and very mature."
A possible fourth goal was called back when the referee determined that goalkeeper Patrick Moore had been fouled. This was followed moments later by a confrontation near the center circle that the referee settled before players came to blows. Scottsdale's frustration became more visible with a yellow card issued to Julio Mesa, and an uncalled penalty when Terrell was brought down in the box.
Toward the end of the match, the usual jostling got worse. By the time it was over, a Scottsdale player had been ejected and several were shown yellow cards.
"It's real tough to play this kind of game where people are just trying to hurt you," Kane said after the match. Kane missed much of the worst of Scottsdale's hard play after he was pulled in the 68th minute. "They have nothing to lose, they are out of the playoffs. It was smart of the coach to take me out so we can play the next game."
Yahya says that Coach Cosgrove kept their heads in the game.
"He was mad about that 26 guy (defender Jack Seaton)," Kane said. "But he said just keep playing, just be yourself."
Another shot by Fulton in the 82nd minute resulted in a rebound, this one picked up by Terrell for the team's fourth goal.
Scottsdale still had time for a response and took advantage of a defensive error from Pima to put the score at 4-2.
The result confirmed Pima's place in the playoffs. The first match is on Tuesday, when they take on Chandler-Gilbert Community College.
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Tony Aguilar was the focus of a scare in the seventh minute when a head-to-head collision cut his scalp. He was taken to a hospital, but Cosgrove reported that there was no concussion.
"It's not as ugly as it appears," he said of the injury. "But he's going to need some stitches."
Defender Charlie Nitka, who was one of several sophomores who played out of position, thought that Scottsdale was a good opponent to play on the eve of the playoffs.
"We did well, we definitely need to do better for the playoffs," he said. "There was a lot of physicality, it will be the same in the playoffs. It's good we went against them."
The Aztecs split their two matches against Chandler-Gilbert in the regular season: an overtime loss followed by a win. An optimistic Nitka thinks that Tuesday's match will be more like the victory, a 4-2 win last month.
"We'll take them apart just like last game," he said.
"We know a lot about them," said forward Yahya Kane. "They like to play long balls, throw ins...they kick the ball and dump it in."
"They are a very direct team," Cosgrove said about the style of Chandler-Gilbert. "They are a hard working team. If we don't play better we are going to be in trouble."
"We don't look that great defensively; we make a lot of mistakes whether it is through organization or communication," Cosgrove said. "We're giving up too many chances, and we are not ourselves when we get our chances. It's a litte bit of trouble on both ends of the field."
The team's previous two matches were losses to Yavapai last Saturday and Mesa on Thursday, Cosgrove is looking at the playoffs as a "new season."
"If we play well, no one is going to remember this week."
CORRECTION: At press time, the playoff opponent looked to be Chandler-Gilbert. The opponent will be Phoenix College.