The ASA Avengers have now become just the fourth team since 2001 to reach the national championship game as a six seed or higher. ASA will now look to do what no team has done in the past 16 years, which is win the national championship as a six seed or higher.
The Lady Avengers were without their second leading scorer, Estelle Badoadana. With the offense being banged up, the Avengers had to play possession soccer in order to sneak out the physical and hard fought victory. The Avengers hit the crossbar twice in the first half, but neither team could strike the back of the net, other than a goal for the Avengers which was called back due to an offside call.
"We were just settling in," said Associate Head Coach Walter Jaramillo at halftime. "Phoenix is a physical team; We're just waiting for the right opportunity."
The second half has been a storyline for this ASA Avengers team. The Avengers have scored a tournament high 12 goals in the second half of their three games during the national tournament.
Head coach Brett Polow spoke on the second half performance saying, "our girls are very prepared. Our right and left backs played phenomenally today. Everyone stepped up in the second half to get the job done. Obviously, Tamara was the national player of the year two years ago, she's a great leader on this team. It's great to be here. We came here to win it. Tomorrows going to be a tough battle. We're honored to be here amongst the best competition in the country."
The Avengers conceded the first goal of the game in the 61st minute, quickly responding with an equalizing goal four minutes later. ASA was in a similar situation in yesterday's game versus Laramie College, when they trailed at the beginning of the second half.
ASA was faced with their first overtime appearance all season tonight when the score was even at one goal a piece. Less than four minutes was all the Avengers needed to get Tamara Quieroz in a position to strike another free kick. She took a breath, stepped in and fired a perfectly placed shot into the top left corner of the net. She was met by her teammates who stormed around her to celebrate the schools first national championship appearance.
Two years ago, Tamara Quieroz, the starting forward for ASA, scored a game winning goal to win Iowa Central the NJCAA women's national championship. Tonight, Quieroz scored the game winning goal in overtime to to push the Avengers to the national championship for the first time in program history.
Quieroz reflected on her game winning goal saying, "I said to myself, yeah, I can do this. Two years ago I did it so I knew I could do it again. It's incredible. I can't describe this moment in my life. I'm so happy to be here with my teammates from ASA in Brooklyn. I have to thank my coach and every one of my teammates who have helped me on and off the field. And thank you to my family for always supporting me."
Tamara scored both of the goals tonight for the Avengers tonight, both of them coming on free kicks.
SEASONED COACHES: A contributing factor in the success of the Avengers throughout their undefeated campaign this year has been due to the seasoned coaching staff. Head Coach Brett Polow sent his Monroe College soccer team to the division III national championship in 2011 finishing in second place. That same year, current assistant coach Walter Jaramillo was the head coach at Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC).
Polow and Jaramillo were named Region XV co-coaches of the year in 2015. Additionally, they shared the co-region players of the year, Michaela Howell and Evelyn Mendes. The two coaches grew up together and over the years have developed a close-knit relationship, which has helped build the same dynamic amongst this year's team.
In addition, assistant coach Mike Grudge is also the head men's soccer coach. In two of the last four years, coach Grudge has led the men's team to the national tournament.
Since 2013, as the head coach, Polow has led the Lady Avengers to a 52-8-2 overall record, including the first ever undefeated regular season this year.
UP NEXT: The Avengers will play the winner of tonight's 8:00 PM kick off between #2 Tyler and #4 Eastern Florida State College. The championship game is set to be played Saturday, November 18 at 7:00 pm.