Valle, Matadors rout Thunderbirds
Arizona Western did its part Saturday night to keep its shot at winning the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference alive.
Unfortunately for the Matadors, Yavapai did what it needed to do to clinch the league and the No. 1 seed in the NJCAA Region I tournament.
The Matadors smoked Mesa 7-0 at the AWC soccer field thanks to two goals each from Arturo Valle and Francisco Ramirez. But Yavapai knocked off Pima in double overtime to secure the conference title heading into Thursday's match between the Matadors and Roughriders in AWC's home finale.
AWC (15-3 overall and ACCAC) moved closer to clinching the No. 2 seed in the six-team tournament, which would allow it will host a semifinal Oct. 25. But the Matadors will have to travel to Prescott to take on the Roughriders in the championship, should both teams make it.
First things first. They have to face the Roughriders, a team that beat AWC 4-1 in Prescott in September, the most lopsided loss of the year for the Matadors.
That loss snapped a seven-game winning streak. This time around, the Matadors bring a five-game winning streak into the match.
“Every year I coach, I try to peak at the end of the season,” AWC coach Kenny Dale said. “It doesn't matter where my team is in the standings, but we always try to peak at the end of the season.”
Valle said the Matadors are brimming with confidence heading into Thursday's match.
“We're motivated. We're doing things right, the things we're supposed to do. Yavapai is probably the hardest team to beat in the league.
“We trust ourselves, we have a pretty good team,” Valle said. “We're pretty sure we're going to win the next game, too.”
Dale said the team had particularly been peaking the past three games, outscoring Phoenix, Scottsdale and Mesa by a combined 17-1.
Against the Thunderbirds (6-13, 6-12) on Saturday, AWC's three first-half goals came within a 14-minute span. Julio Castillo scored the first goal in the 14th minute. Then after Ramirez scored on an assist from Paz in the 23rd minute, Castillo assisted Ramirez with 17:13 left in the half.
Ramirez added two assists in the second half, both on Valle's goals in the 48th and 62nd minutes. Mario Soto and Donal Landrum added goals in the 69th and 76th minutes, respectively, to cap the rout.
Dale said the team has been working on staying focused and not getting distracted by things such as high-profile games on the schedule.
“One of the things we've really worked on in the last two or three weeks is mental skills, how you prepare for a game mentally. And how you conduct yourself mentally. We've worked on that a lot.”