The Pima Community College men's soccer team (17-3-1) won a high-intense match-up in the Region I, Division I semifinals on Thursday.
The No. 2 seeded Aztecs advanced to the Region I, Division I championship game after they defeated No. 3 Arizona Western College (15-3-3) 2-1. The Aztecs will face No. 5 seed Phoenix College for the third straight year in the Region I, Division I Championship game on Saturday.
With the game tied at 1-1 and time ticking towards overtime, sophomore Hector Banegas (Rincon HS) came through once again; scoring from the back post after a great pass from freshman Andrew Bianchi (Salpointe Catholic HS) with 2:26 left in the game (88th minute).
"It means a lot that I can put away a goal in tough times. We were under pressure when they tied the game," Banegas said. "We kept our composure and they lost control (late in the half).
The Matadors got called for three yellow cards in the 87th minute.
The Aztecs got on the board early in the first half after freshman Chris Cooper (University HS) scored on a header with an assist from Bianchi in the 8th minute.
The Matadors came back and tied the game in the 76th minute with a goal from Fabian Munoz.
Pima men's soccer coach David Cosgrove picked up his 300th career win as head coach for the Aztecs.
"If you're going to win No. 300, win it against a nationally ranked team like Arizona Western College. They made great adjustments and kept us on our heels. They move the ball better than anyone in the league and if you get caught, they'll get you. Winning it and scoring late is even more rewarding," Cosgrove said. "Our kids showed character and toughness and they stayed disciplined."
Sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Anderson finished the game with two saves.
The Aztecs played to a scoreless tie in Yuma last month and beat the Matadors 6-0 in the final regular season game last week at Kino.
Cosgrove knows his team is in for a battle on Saturday and enjoys the classic rivalry Pima has developed with the Bears over the last few years.
"I think Phoenix College has the best talent player-for-player," Cosgrove said. They're playing unbelievable soccer. We have to play better than we were tonight against them"
The Aztecs split with the Bears during the regular season. Pima beat Phoenix College 2-1 at the Kino North Grandstand in August but were shutout 4-0 earlier this month in Phoenix.
The start time for Saturday's championship game at Kino North Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m..
Pima goals: Cooper (Bianchi) 8th minute; Banegas (Bianchi) 88th minute.
David Cosgrove/Photo by Ben Carbajal