No. 1 seed Paradise Valley opens tourney with 3-0 win

No. 1 seed Paradise Valley opens tourney with 3-0 win

Paradise Valley Community College coach Jon Ruzan was happy with the way his team raced out to a 3-0 lead in Monday’s opening round of the NJCAA women’s soccer National Championship Tournament at Eastern Florida State College.

It was the rest of the game he wasn’t necessarily as happy with.

Moraine Valley coach Al Palar, meanwhile, was happy with the way his team finished strong. But that three-goal deficit was just too much to overcome.

And so it was as the No. 1-ranked Pumas (23-0-0) opened pool play with a 3-0 victory on a rain-soaked field at Titan Soccer Complex on the Melbourne campus of Eastern Florida State College.

“We finished some chances in the first half and then didn’t play particularly well,” Ruzan said. “The second half, I thought we played a little bit better, but didn’t create enough chances.

“We’ve come a long way, and 3-0 is still a pretty good result. We typically create a lot more chances. We didn’t today.”

Jamie Iurato added to her nation-leading goal total with a pair of goals for the Pumas, giving her 47 on the season.

Karina Lopez-Martinez got Paradise Valley on the board early with a goal on an assist from Shelby Stuart and Iurato.

“It’s always great to win, but I think we could have played a lot better than we did,” said Pumas team captain Janessa Dunbar. “Sometimes we were a little slow and like a second behind. We reacted instead of anticipating what was going to happen and I think playing in the rain and the field being a little slick threw us off a little bit.

“But I think we adjusted well in the first half when we got the three goals.”

While Ruzan attributed some of his team’s struggles to the rainy conditions, he also spoke about the adjustments his team had to make when coming to Florida for the NJCAA tournament.

“We don’t see any of these teams,” Ruzan said. “They don’t see us (either), so it’s kind of odd for us to play so we have to adjust. It’s a slightly different style of game. Our conference is very physical, very fast and the ground is very hard so the ball moves very quickly.

“Coming here with the rain, it’s a different game, so we have to adjust. Moraine Valley, you can tell they’re a good team. At the end of the day, I’m pleased with the result.”

The Cyclones (14-3-0) had to do some adjusting of their own, but Palar was happy with the way his team played in the second half.

“Anyone who watched this game saw they had the better of the play for the majority of the game,” Palar said. “But at the same time, we expected that. We had to take our chances. We didn’t, and it’s OK.

“We don’t play competition like this often in our region. The game was a lot faster and it took us a little bit longer than I would have liked for us to get accustomed to it, but after 35 minutes, when you’re down 3-0, it’s too late at that point.

“I know it’s a third of the game, and it’s unfortunate, but if you take away those (first) 30 minutes, I thought we did play well. We were able to move the ball and in those last 45 minutes, we had chances. That’s what it takes at this level. I’m obviously disappointed in the result, but extremely proud in our effort and the majority of the game from the girls.”