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Tucson soccer

Pros best UA club: FC Tucson scores 7 vs. Arizona men's team

First run-out for FCT's Venter & Sousa; last match for UA standout Keil

FC Tucson made a visit to the University of Arizona's William David Sitton Field to take on the Arizona men's soccer club. Saturday night ended in a 7 - 0 blowout as the professional side outplayed the amateurs by nearly all measures.

"We had effort there the entire time. It was all we could really ask for," said Arizona forward Karai Keil. "I thought we had a lot of good connections. Different ideas were there. The touches were off...we had spurts of greatness."

The first 10 minutes were relatively even as Arizona had the first solid chance at goal: a header that had to be cleared off the line by FC Tucson's Eti Tavares. After that, the pros took control of the match. Tavares scored first in minute 15, which was followed by goals from Klisman Sousa, a loanee from Hartford Athletic making his first appearance for the squad, Roy Abergil, defender Kyle Ventner and a fifth from forward Ilijah Paul.

Needless to say, Arizona coach Eric Rhodes made some changes at the half. The team brought midfielder Bernardo Nieto up from a defensive position at the start of the second half. It didn't create much in the way of offense, and FC Tucson recorded two more goals. Abergil and Guillermo Delgado scored those to earn the team a Brave Little Tailor sash.

For FC Tucson coach Darren Sawatzky, the match was a chance to give some time to players that haven't had a chance to see the field. Sousa, who only arrived with the team on April 10, caused no end of havoc for Arizona's back line before he went down with an injury in the 29th minute.

It was also the first time on the field for Kyle Venter. The former New Mexico Lobo had been drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2014. A surgery kept him off the field for FC Tucson until this match. He had the captain's armband and wasn't shy in the role of field marshal, shouting instructions and suggestions constantly.

"That's been me for a while. It's what I can contribute to the team," he said. "Organization. If you want to call it leadership, that's fine...I'm trying to help and make everyone else better."

Venter was also a strong presence on the back line, mostly keeping Keil, MVP for Arizona's championship run in 2017, from having many chances on the ball. Venter had a number of advantages over Keil: height, speed, experience, but Keil believes his team benefitted from having to face such skilled players.

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"This is a great opportunity," said Keil, who was playing his last match for the team. "You know that no matter what happens here, you are never seeing guys on the other side of you who are playing with the skills with these guys. ..you realize you can compete with any team in the nation because there were so many times we were competitive here."

Arizona coach Rhodes said that there were "good flashes," but also knew the game was going to be somewhat a mismatch. He also pointed out that some players he counts on, such as Brian Molina and Zach Miller, were out. He told his team to look at it as a learning exercise.

"I told my guys at half time to learn from the guy you are marking," he said. "If you learn anything, learn that communication. It was positive; it was instructional. If a guy made a bad play, they said next time it needs to go here."

"They are a team, I told my guys that. Every time they put a guy in, he knew his role...it was a good lesson for us," he added.

Arizona will next take the field in the Fall. FC Tucson plays its next home match on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Kino North Stadium. The team will play South Georgia Tormenta FC in a rematch of Tucson's 3-1 loss to that squad on April 3.

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Ted Prezelski/TucsonSentinel.com

Yarrow King and Lassina Doumbya (wearing a jersey for his native Ivory Coast) play the drums to support Madiba Brock, a late-game substitute for the Arizona men's soccer club.