Aztecs men's soccer grabs lead but falters in second half to Schoolcraft College; Aztecs take third place at NJCAA Tourney; Takanaka named to All-Tournament team

The Pima men's soccer team earned third place at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. The Aztecs fell to Schoolcraft College 4-2 in Friday's semifinal game. The Aztecs finished the season at 19-5-3 overall. Photo by Raymond Suarez
The Pima men's soccer team earned third place at the NJCAA Division I National Tournament. The Aztecs fell to Schoolcraft College 4-2 in Friday's semifinal game. The Aztecs finished the season at 19-5-3 overall. Photo by Raymond Suarez

The Pima Community College men's soccer team took the lead early in its NJCAA Division I semifinal game but couldn't hold on in the end.

The No. 8 seeded Aztecs led 2-0 but fell to the No. 2 seeded Ocelots 4-2. The Aztecs gave up three goals in the second half. Pima earned third place for the tournament.

The Aztecs got on the board in the 5th minute when sophomore Chris Cooper (University HS) scored on a header inside the box. The Aztecs kept the pressure on and it paid off again in the 36th minute when freshman Hugo Kametani scored on a shot that was set-up by fellow freshman Daisuke Takanaka. The Ocelots scored in the 37th minute but the Aztecs maintained a 2-1 lead at the break.

Schoolcraft seemed to play with more urgency in the second half as they put pressure on Pima's defense. Alex Spratte tied the game with a goal in the 69th minute. Hakeem Salder scored on a penalty kick in the 80th minute to put Schoolcraft up for good. Tavon Barnes added an insurance goal for the Ocelots in the 87th minute.

Freshman David Silva finished the game with two saves for the Aztecs.

When the Aztecs scored in the 5th minute, it was the first time all season that the Ocelots had trailed in a game. Schoolcraft had also given up just four goals all season and had given up two goals one other time during the season.

"The first 30 minutes we played okay, we got two goals and we were hoping to get to halftime at 2-0 but we let them back in the game," Pima coach David Cosgrove said. "Giving up the goal at the half was a real momentum changer. Schoolcraft imposed their will and we started to struggle with the physicality. As the second half wore on, we played worse and weren't making good decisions. Giving up a two-goal lead is tough on the kids."

The Aztecs closed out the season with a 19-5-3 overall record. This is the second time in three years the Aztecs have reached the NJCAA Division I Tournament semifinal round. It is also the fourth straight season the Aztecs have won at least 18 games or more.

Takanaka was selected to the NJCAA Division I All-Tournament team. He finished with two goals and two assists for the tournament.