Pantalione's team perennially rough on competition

2011-07-05T00:00:00Z 2011-07-12T13:39:54Z Pantalione's team perennially rough on competition Arizona Daily Star
July 05, 2011 12:00 am

In celebration of Arizona's centennial, the Star will feature our picks for the 100 best athletes, moments and teams.

Throughout the summer, we will showcase our list - with the first 90 in no particular order. In August, Greg Hansen will choose his top 10, with a column on each.

Yavapai College men's soccer program

Achievement

Mike Pantalione visited Arizona for spring training, a respite from cold winters in Wisconsin and Montana, and wanted to move here.

He wrote letters to schools touting himself as a soccer coach.

Only one personalized a note back: Yavapai College in Prescott sent a three-sentence letter Nov. 18, 1985, saying it did not offer men's soccer yet, but to stay in touch.

"We won our first national title, exactly five years, to the day, after (the school) wrote the letter," he said.

A dynasty was born.

Since 1990, the Roughriders and Pantalione can claim seven national championships and 13 title-game appearances.

They've reached 19 national playoff tournaments and 18 Final Fours, the most dominant run among junior colleges nationwide.

With assistant coach Hugh Bell at his side for all but three years, Pantalione is 477-39 over 22 years, with 21 conference crowns.

Yavapai has sent three players to the World Cup and seven to Major League Soccer, all while replenishing a junior college team whose players leave every two years, if not sooner.

Pantalione estimates "95 percent" of his players go on to a four-year school.

Players wear seven stars on their Yavapai jerseys, one for every national championship.

"They inherit those stars," Pantalione said. "They didn't earn them themselves. They know coming into the program, that there are high standards. They've got to be committed to those standards both on and off the field."

Hometown; age

Philadelphia; 57

Quotable

"You can recycle the speeches every two years. You have odd-year speeches and even-year speeches."

- Pantalione, joking about his players leaving every two years.

Patrick Finley

 

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