Men's Soccer | 08/21/2012

Matador Soccer ready to open season Thursday at Chandler-Gilbert

'11 Region I Semifinalists start season with 2-game road trip; home opener Tuesday vs. Pima

Yuma, Arizona August 22, 2012 -- Arizona Western College is proud to announce that the AWC Soccer team will kick off their regular season this Thursday night, August 23rd, as they head to the Phoenix area to face off against fellow 2011 playoff participant Chandler-Gilbert Community College in the teams' conference opener. It will be the first match for the Matadors since they participated in the Region I Semifinals last October.

Just as in 2010 & 2011, AWC Head Soccer Coach Kenny Dale will lead his team into battle for the season with a preseason national ranking that's just outside of the NJCAA Top 10 (currently ranked 12th). However, unlike last summer, the Matadors can go back to not having the pressure of having the 'bullseye' on their collective backs of being the defending Region I Champions. The team won their first-ever region title in 2010, advancing to the NJCAA West District Finals for the first time ever. And while the 2011 squad was among the top teams in the conference all season long, Dale could see the weight of that burden begin to wear the team down late in the season, and was not as surprised as most Matador fans were when Pima came to the AWC Soccer Field for the Region I Semifinals and muscled the Matadors out of the playoffs on AWC's home field. Despite that bitter loss, the Matadors still accomplished a historic mark for the program with a 16-2-2 record in conference play-their best mark ever in a single season against ACCAC teams. And while the team is very young this season, Dale has such 2011 benchmarks to lean on as reigning ACCAC Goalkeeper of the Year (and 1st Team All-Region I/All-ACCAC performer) Oscar Hernandez, fellow returning defenders Bryan Portillo (por-TEE-yoh) and Angel Figueroa; a pair of returning starters at midfield, Erik Luzanilla (LOO-zuh-NEE-yuh) and Bryan Orta; and fellow returning starters Donal (doh-NAHL) Landrum and Mario Soto at forward.

The Matadors will head to Chandler to face the Coyotes tomorrow afternoon to start the season in a 4:30PM kickoff, and will return to the Valley of the Sun Saturday for another afternoon matinee (2PM start) at Glendale Community College. They'll then get ready for their home opener next Tuesday night, August 28th, as they host none other than defending Region I Champion Pima in a rematch of last year's Region I Semifinals. Kickoff that night is scheduled for 6PM at the AWC Soccer Field on the main AWC campus (2020 South Avenue 8E in Yuma), and admission to all regular season Matador Soccer home games is FREE.

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