YUMA, Ariz. – The best season in team history is in the books for the Arizona Western College women’s soccer team. Now, the team will wave goodbye to Karla Navarro (Vanguard University), Pabla Sicairos (Sterling College) and Mitzy Rangel (Ottawa University-Surprise). The three will join Cinthya Samaniego (signed with Minot State on Signing Day) as the latest women’s soccer players to transition to the four-year level.
Navarro was the steadying hand in the midfield and kept the potent Lady Matador offense humming all season. The sophomore piled up 20 assists (third in the conference) while adding 11 goals, and she had a knack for clutch goals. Four of her 11 goals were game winners, and she put the Lady Mats into the Region I Finals after her goal in the 109th minute of double overtime to beat Pima 4-3 on the road in the Region Semifinals. She also had one goal and two assists in the team’s 4-0 win over Scottsdale to start the playoffs.
“She was the rock to our midfield,” said coach Alexia Poon. “One of the hardest workers I know on or off the field. She brought the head to our team and set the tone for us. She is humble, and that’s what I love the most about her. I will miss having Karla around, but I am so happy for her! She is so deserving of this opportunity.”
Navarro is headed to a Vanguard team that went to the NAIA National Tournament and went 16-4-1 on the season. Vanguard is located in Costa Mesa, California.
Sicairos served multiple roles and shifted around in the field during the season. She started 12 times in 19 appearances and battled on defense all year. The sophomore also had one goal and two assists.
“Pabla!! Another hard-working individual who was not just a student-athlete but also was in honors and worked part-time while at AWC,” said Poon. “She drives for excellence always and constantly lives outside her comfort zone. She will do big things in Kansas!”
Sicairos heads to Sterling College, an NAIA school that went 5-11-2 last season. Sterling is located in Sterling, Kansas.
Rangel signed with Ottawa University in Surprise after playing in eight matches this year for the Lady Mats. She played in the midfield and at forward.
“Mitzy has worked so hard to get to this point, and it’s amazing to see players like her fight for what they want!” said Poon. “She came to AWC as a walk-on and told me, ‘Coach, I am willing to put in work because I want to play at the next level,’ and boy did she live up to what she said her freshman year.”
Other sophomores from the team are also headed to four-year schools to continue their education: Jasmine Miranda (University of Louisville), Lexi Zeyen (University of Nevada-Reno), Jessica Williams (University of La Vern) and Kaylyn Barnes (Arizona State).
Poon herself is transitioning to a new role after two seasons leading the Lady Mats. She is headed back home to California to coach in her hometown.
“I will miss these sophomores and my returning freshman dearly,” Poon said. “I put my whole heart and soul into this program. This may sound odd, but I learned a lot from my athletes—and I thank them. I thank them for trusting me and believing me as their coach! They inspired me every day and pushed me to be the best coach that I could be during my time at AWC.”
The Lady Mats went 15-5-3 and had multiple firsts last season. The team hosted and won a playoff game for the first time while also advancing to the Region Final for the first time. Plus, Samaniego was named the conference Player of the Year and an NJCAA All-American, both firsts for the program.
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. AWC leads the state in enrollment growth over the past 10 years and handed out more than 2,300 certificates and degrees in 2016-17.