Paradise Valley Community College head coach Jon Ruzan stood away from his team celebrating, hands on his head and just took a moment.
Ruzan just witnessed his team finish an incredible season with a 3-1 victory over Tyler Junior College to clinch the NJCAA Division I women’s soccer National Championship title and wanted to just take a moment and let it all soak in.
“It is a very emotional moment for them and truthfully an emotional moment for me as well. I have castigated them throughout the season about enjoying the run. They say the team is a reflection of their coaches and I don’t do a very good job celebrating victories but I have been telling them all week to enjoy this.
“We are going to enjoy this.”
Paradise Valley Community College finish the season 25-0-1 and with the school’s third national title. And they came out of the gates sharp as Jacey Duncan scored on a corner kick just under three minutes into the contest.
“I told her if anyone asks you meant it,” said Ruzan who was named the tournament’s outstanding coach. “She is a two-foot player and the problem has been her visual reference point has been the goal so she always bends it too far. I asked her to change the visual point and tonight it worked.”
Paradise Valley Community College would add a second goal four minutes into the second half when a penalty kick was awarded. Janessa Dunbar scored and it was 2-0.
After O’Shay Nelson cut the lead to 2-1 for Tyler Junior College, defensive Most Valuable Player Arielle Perez made a couple of nice saves to make sure Paradise Valley kept the lead and Jamie Iurato scored her 48th goal of the season to make sure the Pumas would hoist the trophy.
“It feels great. I am just enjoying all this right now,” Perez said. “It is actually insane to say we are unbeaten, we put in a lot of hard work and we were always hearing t was not good enough so it was always about coming back better than the day before and we have done that and it feels amazing to know that all of our hard work has paid off.”
America Garcia and Iurato were both named to the all-tournament team and Karina Lopez-Martinez, who scored three times in the tournament was the offensive Most Valuable Player.
“You look at this program, all these girls. We are not the favorites, I mean we were the top seed but these kids are all Phoenix metro kids and you look at the other rosters, it can be intimidating. You listen to how they travel around the country and for us going to Douglas, Arizona is a big deal,” Ruzan said. “But they did it. I can not be any more proud of them.”
The All-Tournament team
Khadija Shaw, Eastern Florida State College
Jemma House, Laramie County CC
Sarah Erickson, Laramie County CC
Eleni Markou, Monroe County CC
Elin Eklund, Monroe County CC
Colleen Howland, Butler
Colleen McKay, Schoolcraft
Alyssa Jones, Parkland
O'Shay Nelson, Tyler Junior College
Asai Kie, Tyler Junior College
America Garcia, Paradise Valley Community College
Jamie Iurato, Paradise Valley CC