Dozens of fans, fellow athletes, staff and player’s families gathered at the north parking lot of the Pima Community College West Campus Sunday afternoon, laden with posters, ready to welcome back the men’s soccer team.
The top-seeded Aztecs won the national championship — a first for Pima men’s soccer — on Saturday in a double-overtime victory against No. 3 Barton in Daytona Beach, Florida.
“It’s historic,” coach Dave Cosgrove said. “We won 18 games in a row, for the first time in school history. And in those 18 games, we trailed for nine minutes. We’ve given up less goals this year than any team in history.”
The Aztecs had previously played in the national championship twice — first while Cosgrove played for Pima in 1988 and then in 1999.
Cosgrove, who was named Coach of the Tournament, took over the program in 1998.
“So, I’ve been chasing a national championship here at Pima for 30 years,” he said. “I’ve managed to lose in a couple of national finals and it’s just great to get the monkey off the back, and having my son on the team this year made it even more special.”
The championship was won in double overtime by a goal from sophomore Hugo Kametani, who won a 50/50 ball and chipped it over the Barton keeper and into an open goal.
Kametani, who also produced the game-winning goals in the two matches leading to the championship game, was named the tournament MVP.
“I couldn’t see the goal, but I got a teammate coming to celebration to me,” Kametani said. “Then I noticed (I scored).”
The Cougars were first to score at the 62-minute mark, but Pima responded with a one-touch hit by Isaias German to equalize the score.
German joined the Aztecs after playing for Cosgrove on the FC Tucson squad. The sophomore from Phoenix was looking for a place to continue playing soccer, and wound up choosing Pima.
“It felt great (winning the national championship). It felt like I made the right choice,” German said. “We always talk about it, too. He tells me how he’s happy and how I’m happy. So, it’s great.
“The team chemistry was there the whole time.”
As far as the support the Aztecs were shown on Sunday, Cosgrove said it was stunning.
“Everything about this entire week has been stunning and overwhelming,” Cosgrove said. “It’s something, again being part of Pima for 30 years, I never expected or saw coming.”