Luzanilla, Dale earn top ACCAC honors
Not only did Erik Luzanilla and Kenny Dale receive some personal good news on Monday, the entire Arizona Western soccer team got a pick-me-up.
The Matadors found out they were named co-champions of the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference after playing their last regular season game on Saturday. Luzanilla also was named the ACCAC Player of the Year and Dale got his first coach of the year award.
Arturo Valle, Mario Soto, Oscar Hernandez and Francisco Ramirez were named to the first team, as chosen by the coaches.
Luzanilla's stats weren't the flashiest — six goals and three assists. But Dale called him the field general for the Matadors, and his sophomore leadership helped guide the Matadors to the NJCAA Region I playoffs as the No. 2 seed.
“We're used to hearing the strikers, them getting goals,” said Luzanilla, a graduate of San Luis. “For a midfielder to get it, it's something you don't see often. People are used to keepers or strikers. For a midfielder to get this award it's a huge accomplishment.”
Dale said the coaches in the ACCAC don't always pick the flashiest guys, having even picked defenders in the past.
“It's not all that uncommon, but it just shows the coaches respect him,” Dale said. “We try to coach our guys to know their role and perform their function. A lot of our kids come out of programs where all that matters is who scores the goal.”
“He's like the engine of our team,” he said. “I think they really respect him for that.”
For his award, Dale thanked his assistants and everybody in the AWC athletic department as well as his players. It was his first coach of the year award despite having a top-level program for the past handful of years.
“Part of is the Phoenix coaches are always talking to one another, and for good, bad or indifferent, I'm not involved in those conversations,” Dale said. “These Phoenix guys see each other all the time, through youth programs and things like that. I'm just probably not on their minds all that much. But this year we had a good group of kids. Not just good players but good kids, and that image maybe had something to do with it.”
The Matadors will face the winner of Chandler-Gilbert's home quarterfinal against Paradise Valley. The Coyotes moved up to the No. 3 seed after Glendale was forced to forfeit all of their wins this year for using an ineligible player — including a 3-2 win over the Matadors in Glendale. That new win — formally a 3-2 loss with seconds left on the clock — tied the Matadors with Yavapai for first, but the Roughriders still own the tiebreaker and will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament.