The Yavapai College men’s soccer team headed south on Friday afternoon and took on the No. 9-ranked Arizona Western College Matadors in the NJCAA Division I Region I Championship Match.
Unfortunately for the Roughriders, the Matadors prevailed with a 2-1 final score, ending YC’s season. The Roughriders finished their 2022 campaign with a 9-4-1 overall record and 7-2-1 conference record.
Neither team found the back of the net in the first half, thanks to several nice saves from freshman goalkeeper Rushon Sandy.
After halftime, the Matadors took a 1-0 lead with 33 minutes left to play after the Roughriders were unable to clear a loose ball in the box. 15 minutes later, AWC ballooned its advantage to 2-0 and stood 20 minutes away from a region championship.
The Roughriders, however, never surrendered and cut the lead in half with seven minutes to play on a goal from sophomore forward Joey Vega.
On the play, sophomore forward Iann Topete brought the ball into the offensive zone and sent a long, high arcing cross pass perfectly to the head of Vega who headed it past the Matador goalkeeper and into the net.
Down 2-1 and with time running out, the Roughriders pushed the ball up the field relentlessly at the end of the game, however, were unable to capitalize on any scoring opportunities to bring the game to its final of 2-1.
For Vega, it was his fifth goal of the season while Topete tallied his team-leading eighth assist of the season.
– D.J. Irwin