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Pima women's soccer holds off Holmes for 1st national semifinal appearance since 2007

The Pima Community College women’s soccer team (16-4) is returning to the NJCAA Division II Tournament Semifinals for the first time since 2007.

The No. 4-ranked Aztecs defeated No. 5 Holmes Community College 3-2 to win Pool D. The Bulldogs finished runner-up at last year’s National Tournament after they lost to Phoenix College.

The Aztecs took the lead when freshman Caitlyn Maher (Catalina Foothills HS) scored off a rebounded ball in the box with 24:03 left in the first half. The Aztecs added to their lead when Maher was on the money with a cross-pass to freshman Mari Acosta (Sahuarita HS) for the goal with 11:26 remaining. The Aztecs took a 2-0 advantage at the break.

The Bulldogs got on the board less than a minute into the second half with a goal by Ravynne Wilson but the Aztecs responded less than four minutes later to take back the two-goal lead. Freshman Delaney Buntin (Cienega HS) recovered the ball in the box and scored to make it 3-1.

The Bulldogs cut Pima’s lead to one again when K’lee Pittman scored with 35 minutes left in regulation.

“The intensity was so high in the last 10-15 minutes, we were up 3-2 and our whole team was basically defending; but we’re all covering for each other, we’re there for each other, talking to each other and the communication was there,” sophomore defender Briannah Gerhart (Tanque Verde HS) said. “The intensity was so high, everyone was hyped for it.”

Sophomore midfielder Litycia Espinoza (Sahuarita HS) saw her team step up to another level.

“This was probably one of the best games we’ve played and it’s a really big deal because we haven’t been here since 2007,” Espinoza said. “The second half was pretty intense for us; it felt like the longest half ever but we did good, our mental toughness kicked in and we were able to pick up the win.

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“I saw a lot of not giving up because we were up and they were able to score a couple goals. We didn’t give up, we fought harder to keep the lead the entire time. We didn’t get on each other’s throats. We stayed calm and collected and we were able to pull it together.”

Gerhart was happy with the team’s effort on the defense side.

“Our defense has been really good at backing each other’s up a lot and we’re good at 1v1 these last few games and also winning the balls out of the air,” Gerhart said. It feels amazing to be a part of this, especially with this team. We all want this. We’re going out and we’re getting all these dubs. We’re so ready for this.”

It will be an All-Arizona semifinal as the No. 4 seeded Aztecs play No. 6 Phoenix College on Friday at 1:30 p.m. (CT) (12:30 p.m. MST).

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Photo by Raymond Suarez

The Aztecs women's soccer team is heading back to the NJCAA Division II National Semifinals for the first time since 2007 after the No. 4 seeded Aztecs defeated No. 5 Holmes Community College 3-2. It will be an All-Arizona semifinal as the Aztecs play No. 6 Phoenix College on Friday at 1:30 p.m. (CT).

NJCAA Division II National Tournament (Pool D)

(4) Pima CC Aztecs 3, (5) Holmes CC Bulldogs 2

Pima goals: Caitlyn Maher 21st minute; Mari Acosta (Maher) 33rd minute; Delaney Buntin 49th minute.