By: Joshua Gerard Gargiulo
PHOENIX - Despite a cutthroat Semi-Final match-up against Paradise Valley Community College, ultimately ending in a loss. Most Bears’ are looking back on the two-year journey and seeing all the gifts brought on.
There is only one way to describe a team with forty wins in 2 seasons; an undefeated regular season, en-route to a 23-1-1 season; and a team that has broken every school record at Phoenix College: One-of-a-kind!
Following a 3rd place finish at last year’s NJCAA Division II National Tournament, Chris Sagar headed into the 2018 season with three, key returning pieces: Top two point leaders, Mid-fielders Eliudth Gonzalez and Laura Figueroa. Along with Defender, and soon-to-be named Captain, Brenda Lozano.
Both Eliudth and Laura lived up to the hype. While bringing the Bears’ to, another Region I Division II tournament, Eludith Gonzalez 1st in points and goals, and 2nd in assists. Laura Figueroa the leading-assist woman. Incoming-transfer Maria Del Rio placed top five in points, goals and assists as well. With her help, the Bears’ front-line accounted for 51 of their conference-leading 96 goals; and 46 of the conference-leading 73 assists tallied during the regular season.
Captain Brenda Lozano played in 17 matches, missing four due to injury; and ranked 10th in the ACCAC for assists.
Despite the departure of sophomore keeper, Esthefanny Barreras, Sagar filled the void with the likes of transfer Maria Marin (PV), returning sophomore Alondra Navarro, and freshman Maya Lopez. All three saw near-equal time, around 600 minutes. Both Maria Marin and Maya Lopez placed 1st and 2nd respective for “Goals Allowed” and 1st and 4th in “Save %”.
Despite an early exit, women’s soccer should not hang their heads, as they led in nearly every major category, during the regular season. Various flashes of greatness from freshman’s Tu Nguyen and Samantha Flores, both seeing all 21 games for the Bears, ensures Coach Sagar’s foundation is still in-tact.
“It’s always a revolving door with Community College soccer,” Sagar said. “We lose our leading-scorer, Eli Gonazlez… not only broken every record here at PC; but also in the ACCAC conference. As well as Laure Figueroa, who was a key-player, leading the conference in assists.”
Sagar was not shy about the key players departing. A total of 11 sophomores; seven of those players, including Eliudth Gonzalez and Captain Brenda Lozano, two-year stays at Phoenix College. As well as four key transfers, goalkeeper Maria Marin; and midfielders Reece Benally, Gabriella Palma and Maria Del Rio. All of said tranfers, having major roles in the Bear's offense and defense.
“Definitely big shoes to fill.” Sagar said. “But again, this is kind of what we have to do each year.”
Sagar sounds confident in his up-coming class, mentioning that the talent is “very similar” to this year’s squad.
“A lot of it is, relying on them; and seeing how much responsibility they can take on… Hopefully they can learn the system, adjust to college soccer; and we will see where we go from there,” Sagar said.