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FC Tucson Women gear up for season

Returnees to include Stoian, Berry, Camacho

FC Tucson’s women’s side is gearing up for another season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League. On Saturday, 35 registered hopefuls, plus another dozen walk-ups, tried out for the team at Kino Sports Complex.

The hopefuls included Lexe Selman-Richards, who just finished up her time at the University of Arizona. Even though home is in Utah, she’s staying in Tucson while her husband completes law school.

During Selman-Richards’s time as a Wildcat, she played two different roles. Early on, she played deep in the midfield, holding and distributing the ball to direct the offense. After coach Tony Amato came on board, she was pushed into more of a purely offensive role.

“Not yet,” said Selman-Richards about what the team has told her about her on-field job. “Mostly, it’s been just ‘hey, will you come play?’ I was happy to do that. Wherever they want me, I’ll go.”

Another player being given a run-out was Savannah Berry, a former NAU standout who last played with the team in 2014. Berry has spent the intervening time in graduate school in Leeds, England where she also put in some time for Guiseley AFC Vixens, a lower division women’s team. She’s looking forward to being on the field with the younger players who came out to the try out.

“The energy was really good; there’s some talent out here,” she said. “Having played with them before, I bring that leadership to the team. Title or not, I hope to help out these young players.”

Coach Amy Garelick already has a core group of players in mind, all of whom are familiar from past seasons. Local standout Maddy Irwin is back after a trial with Seattle Reign FC, along with former Arizona State player McKenzie Grossman. Alex Skidmore, a Catalina Foothills grad who is currently playing at University of Louisiana Monroe, will also be on the squad. They will be joined by two current U of A players, team leading scorer Gabi Stoian and goalkeeper Lainey Burdett.

The WPSL’s Pacific-South Conference is arguably the toughest conference in the league. In the time FC Tucson has played in it, a team in that conference has made it into the league’s championship match every year. Despite how tough it is, FC Tucson has come close to making the postseason in past years.

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“We’ve been a point away the last two seasons,” she said. “We are really working on finding that right mix of players. Finding the energy, finding the effort level and balancing it with experience.”

The season starts with games on June 2 and 3, when FC Tucson will play away matches against FC Pacific and Strikers FC. The team’s home opener is against San Diego SeaLions, who made the championship match last year, at Kino on June 9.

Men win first in San Diego

FC Tucson won their first league match of the season in San Diego against the Zest. The win breaks that team’s home unbeaten streak ran for 14 games.

Daniel Krutzen, making his debut for the team, opened the scoring in minute 72. Moshe Perez came on as a substitute to extend the league in the 80th minute.

FC Tucson keeper Luis Barraza earned his first clean sheet of the year.

The team won a US Open Cup match earlier in the week against Colorado Rush. They are scheduled for a match in that tournament against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks on Wednesday before returning to league play in Albuquerque against the Sol.

Ted Prezelski writes about all things soccer, fútbol and piłka nożna for TucsonSentinel.com and at the blog How Flair is Punished (mindingthe.net).


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Ted Prezelski/TucsonSentinel.com

FC Tucson head coach Amy Garelick (left) and assistant Kelly Pierce (right) have a talk with trialists at Kino Sports Complex on Saturday morning.