2011 Region I Semifinalists to begin season with 2nd-highest preseason national ranking ever
Yuma, Arizona – August 6, 2012 -- Arizona Western College is proud to announce that for the third year in a row, the AWC Matadors’ Soccer team is officially ranked in the NJCAA’s Men’s Soccer Division I Preseason Poll. The Matadors are ranked 12th in the poll-just one spot lower than they were ranked at this point last year, which was the highest preseason national ranking the program had ever enjoyed. The announcement comes just five days before the 2012 Matador Soccer team begins its preseason practice schedule in preparation for their 2012 regular season opener at Chandler-Gilbert Community College August 23rd in the Phoenix area.
The last three summers have been a broken record of a very pleasant kind, since the Matadors have been ranked 13th, 11th & 12th in the last three NJCAA Preseason Soccer Poll. However, AWC Head Soccer Coach Kenny Dale has two big reasons to give to his new charges as to why they shouldn’t get comfortable with that, since both of last year’s Region I Finals participants, Yavapai College & Pima Community College, are ranked higher in this year’s poll than the Matadors. Having that many Region I teams ranked that high in the preseason poll shows the sustained respect that the ACCAC has earned over the past few years in men’s soccer, and the Matadors are a prime example of that uptick in the level of competition. The Matadors are just two years removed from winning their first-ever ACCAC Regular Season title and Region I title, and last year, they posted the best conference record in the history of the program, with 16 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties. The 2-1 upset they suffered in the 2011 Region I Semifinals at the hands of eventual Region I Champion Pima has given Dale, his coaches and his returning players plenty of motivation to step up their collective game and return to the brink of their first-ever NJCAA Tournament bid this coming November. The 2012 Matadors’ roster is expected to feature several key components of last year’s successes, including 2011 ACCAC Goalkeeper of the Year Oscar Hernandez as well as fellow returning starters, midfielders Erik Luzanilla and Bryan Orta; and forwards Donal Landrum and Mario Soto.
After participating in their lone preseason exhibition, the first-ever AWC Soccer Alumni Game on Friday night, August 17th, at the AWC Soccer Field, they’ll start the 2012 regular season with a pair of games on the road in the Phoenix area (against Chandler-Gilbert August 23rd and Glendale August 25th). Their first regular season home match will be a rematch of last year’s Region I Semifinals as they host the defending Region I Champion Pima Aztecs on Tuesday night, August 28th at 6PM. All home soccer matches will be held at the AWC Soccer Field on the AWC campus (2020 South Avenue 8E in Yuma), and admission to all regular season Matador Soccer home games is FREE.