Aztec women open home season with strong win
Oliver earns brace; Amparano, Pacheco split clean sheet honors
The Pima College Aztecs are ranked number one in the country and showed a little of why in a win against the GateWay Geckos on Saturday night at the Aztec Soccer Field.
Delaney Buntin was surrounded by GateWay Community College defenders when her close range shot made it past the goalkeeper. The 29th minute goal gave the homeside a lead that they never seemed in danger of relinquishing.
The biggest first half threat by the visitors came when GateWay made it up field in the 35th minute and got past the defense. Goalkeeper Angelina Amparano came off her line to break up the play before the Geckos could get a shot off.
Meredith Scott opened the second half scoring in the 60th minute. Not to be outdone, Kyleigh Oliver scored two over the next seven minutes, both assisted by Scott. Her first was a long, looping shot from outside the box that caught the keeper off guard. The second came after a short range shot from Scott bounced off the upright right to Oliver’s feet.
The match was the fourth for the Aztec women, as well as their fourth shut-out. In addition to the four-player back line, the goalkeeper got involved in the defense. Amparano did that on one spectacular occasion in the first half, and Adriana Pacheco, as her second half substitute, was called upon several times to be a sweeper-keeper. Lev Yashin would have been proud.
“It gave us a fifth defender,” said fullback Bri Gerhart. “We were able to play to the keeper’s feet…we were able to let them switch the play instead of having to play into pressure.”
Gerhart is listed as 6’ on the PCC roster, but for the most part, GateWay had the physical advantages. Their players, however, were unable to use their size to any advantage.
“We read the ball pretty well and tried to eliminate any 50-50 balls,” she said. “We’d just step in front of them because we could get in front of them faster.”
Coach Kendra Veliz noted that she set two targets for the team: get a shut-out and get at least three goals. Mission accomplished. A half-time talk helped things break open in the second half.
“I talked about cleaning up things,” she said. “Crosses to targets and on the ground. Just focusing on finishing.”
It was important advice, especially given that the team, while winning, has had a series of one goal games.
20 - 0 is the most dangerous lead
The team’s next match is against South Mountain. Although the team had a 5-0 win against Glendale, they have also had two losses that were by margins that, to put it in the most blunt terms, were embarrassingly spectacular.
South Mountain opened their season with a 24 - 0 loss to Phoenix College. (Lauren Runion, by herself, had seven goals). Saturday, the team lost 20 - 0 to Arizona Western. FC Tucson’s Ashly Martinez had two goals and two assists in that contest.
Still, Tuesday’s game up in Phoenix has to be taken seriously.
“It’s the same as any other game. We take it one game at a time,” said Veliz. “It’s harder to play on the road… the heat will play into it, I’m sure.”