YUMA, Ariz--- When it comes to the playoffs, it’s often very hard to beat a good opponent three times in a season and yet the Arizona Western Matadors (12-5-2 overall, 7-3-1 overall) knocked off the Paradise Valley Pumas (8-10-1 overall, 5-4-1 ACCAC) Monday night on the Matadors Soccer Field to earn a spot in the ACCAC semifinals.
The Matadors wasted little time waiting for the match to become more difficult as an early goal was delivered by Leo Amaral. After receiving a pass at the top of the box, Amaral ripped a shot to the right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Matadors had many chances in the first half with four corners and a pair of one-on-one situations but could not find the back of the net.
Mirroring the opening, AWC once again found the net four minutes into the second half on a cross into the box from Michael Nachforg that Ridwane Boukraa did not let touch the ground, volleying the ball past the keeper to double the score.
In the 67th minute, the Mats went to the cross again, Jesus Sanchez found Giorgio Martino who delivered a rainbow chip just over the goalkeeper for goal number three.
That proved to be enough as the ACCAC/Region I Goalkeeper of the Year Duro Dragicevic notched the clean sheet with help from defenders, and fellow All-Conference selections, Derek Fournier and Jed Bowman, as well as a typically terrific performance by Romulo Bosqueiro and Arturo Ledezma in the back row.
Arizona Western entered the match having beat Paradise Valley both times they played during the regular season, the first time home in August, 3-1 in a non-conference game, and the second time to open conference on the road in September, 4-2.
The cooler night made an intriguing backdrop for a hotly contested match between two familiar foes.
Paradise Valley has proven to be one of the few teams that have scored multiple goals against the Matadors in a conference match this season. The Pumas also came in confident with a win over the 2nd seed Yavapai RoughRiders early this year. While this concludes the season for Paradise Valley, the Pumas proved to be a tough matchup for all ACCAC opponents.
The Matadors continue the post-season push, advancing to the semi-finals for the 5th consecutive season and will travel to top seeded Phoenix College on Wednesday, October 30th, at 6:00pm. The Matadors split the season series with the Bears as Phoenix won the non-conference match the last times these teams played in Phoenix. The Mats won the conference matchup in Yuma.
Phoenix College will stream the game on Facebook Live on the Phoenix College Men’s Soccer page.
Arizona Western College is one of the top community colleges in Arizona. The college boasts partnerships with all three state universities that include face-to-face classes in Yuma.