Marco Martinez (14) advances the ball past a defender in a regular season game against Scottsdale Community College. (Photo by Dylan Kessler courtesy of the MCC Athletic Department)

Mesa Community College men’s soccer team advances to national tournament

For the first time in program history, the Mesa Community College men’s soccer team will compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II National Tournament from Nov. 14-19.

After posting a 12-4-1 record in their 2022 campaign, head coach Brain Ronan and the team’s season isn’t over yet, as they were named the No. 7 seed in the tournament on Tuesday. Mesa finds themselves in Pool B, along with No. 2 Jones College and No. 11 Prairie State College. 

When Ronan saw that his team would compete for a national title, he was excited for his team to be able to play on such a large stage.

“I was way more excited than I thought I would be. When I saw our name it was a very special moment. I was really pumped for our guys,” said Ronan.

This year, the tournament will be held at Pima Community College in Tucson, AZ. 

With teams traveling as far as Brockton, Massachusetts to attend the tournament, the Thunderbirds seem to have an advantage when it comes to their travel to the tournament, and Ronan is excited that the team is familiar with where the games will take place. 

“I really like that it’s in our backyard, it keeps the emotions in check a little bit, it’s almost like a travel tournament for us,” said Ronan.

In the field of 12, the state of Arizona has three teams competing for the national championship: Phoenix College, Mesa Community College, and Pima Community College, respectively. 

MCC is familiar with both teams, as they played them both twice this year. 

Ronan believes that playing such talent on a regular basis in their own conference will help their success in the tournament as they will be playing the best in the country. 

“The level of competition that we played all year, I think we’re prepared for this, as far as the level of play, we’re ready and excited for that,” said Ronan.

Pima, who is the No. 5 seed in the tournament, not only has the home field advantage, but they also have championship experience as the Aztecs were the National Champions just last year.

Phoenix, who defeated Pima in the district final this season, were also in the tournament last season, but lost both games they played. 

Regardless of how the teams representing Arizona perform in the tournament this year, having 25% of the field composed of teams from the Grand Canyon State leads many to put the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference as one of the top conferences in the nation.

“We’ve established ourselves as one of the premier Junior College soccer conferences in the U.S.,” said Ronan, “and that’s why we’re excited rather than nervous because we’ve seen some of the best competition and we know what it’s going to take to go down there and compete in every game.”

MCC will take on No. 11 Prairie State College on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 12:30 pm. The Pioneers’ 16-4 season ended in an overtime loss to Morton College in the district final. 

On Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 12:30 pm, the Thunderbirds play No. 2 Jones College. The Bobcats come in after completing their first undefeated season in program history, as they went  a perfect 15-0 after winning their district finals matchup against Pearl River Community College.