The defending champion Pima men’s soccer team started strong right out of the gate, scoring two quick goals in the first period on Wednesday night in pool play of the NJCAA Division II national championships at Kino Stadium.
What began as a few moments of dominance for the Aztecs quickly turned around as the Cicero (Ill.) Morton College Panthers (18-0-1) scored three unanswered goals in that same period to win 3-2 in the second day of pool play. .
Pima ends its season 10-4-2.
“We came put with great energy,” Pima men’s soccer head coach David Cogrove said. “We got two goals which made it interesting. We had a chance to score a third, I think it would have taken the spirit out of them, but we didn’t get that next goal that we needed.”
“To their credit, they were down 2-0 and they battled back,” Cosgrove added. “They’re a good team and they scored a couple really good goals.”
The Aztecs needed to win this match for a chance of making it out of the pool and on to the semifinals.
Pima got off to a fast start with a goal in the eighth minute of play. Nicholas Bianchi scored off an assist from Cholla High School graduate Christian Gutierrez.
Six minutes later, it was Gutierrez scoring a goal of his own. He was assisted by Marana High School graduate Daniel Ehler in the 14th minute of play.
Morton then came back with three unanswered goals. João Victor Rosito started off the rally by getting himself a brace.
The goals came only one minute apart from each other, the first in minute-22 and the second in minute-23.
The match leading goal then came in the 44th minute. Morton’s Juan Ramírez knocked the goal in.
Last year, Pima made it to the NJCAA Division II finals match and beat the CCSB Essex (Md.) Knights 3-2 in penalty kicks to win its second championship in three years.