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Pierce era for FC Tucson begins with a win

2-1 victory powered by penalties from Boswell, Pimienta

FC Tucson's women's side made their season debut with a 2-1 win over Albuquerque Sol FC at Kino Stadium on Saturday night. Abbie Boswell and Laura Pimienta scored for the home squad.

Both teams have only had a short time to get ready for the season, and it showed during the early portion of the match. Despite sloppy moments from both sides, FC Tucson's Jordan Boswell and Cierra Valdez had good chances in the first half.

The first goal, however, had to wait until the closing moments of the half. Substitute forward Tatiana Lizarraga got pulled down in the box and the referee blew the whistle. Tucson's Abbie Boswell, in a seemingly easy way, slipped the penalty kick past the keeper to put her team on the board.

In the second half, Albuquerque's Corey Kiser took a shot that hit the underside of the crossbar then bounced out of the goal. The goal was ruled good after a conference between the center referee and an assistant.

It took late in the half before FC Tucson could regain the lead, and it came from another penalty. In stoppage time, a collision with the keeper led the referee to call a penalty. Albuquerque players mobbed him and a profane tirade from Sol keeper Katherine Robinson led to her being awarded a yellow card. A surprisingly vocal group of Albuquerque fans had some equally colorful words for the officiating crew.

None of it mattered. Former University of Arizona defender Laura Pimienta stepped up to take the penalty kick and the strike found home to give the home side the win.

The win puts FC Tucson in second just behind Albuquerque's other team, Albuquerque FC, on the WPSL's Desert Division table. They next face Las Vegas-based Players SC on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Kino Sports Complex.

Still learning

After the match, team captain Karina Camacho joked that her teammates were still learning each other's names in the locker room. Even though the team won, she believed the players still need to learn each other's tendencies.

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"We still have a little ways to go. I felt like we were a step behind," she said. "That will come with a few more games."

"We've had five practices...the starting 11 hasn't even had a chance to work together yet," said Kelly Pierce. "We did really well in the first half...I think we did really well initially."

Pierce pointed out that the team greatly out shot Sol in the first half, but Katherine Robinson, their goalkeeper, was up to the task.

"That goalie was awesome and she had several fantastic saves on us," she said.

Even with that offensive prowess, the lack of cohesion will continue to be a challenge. Pierce is anticipating more changes in the line-up already, with players being unavailable and new ones coming in as they come back from college break. One former professional is awaiting her eligibility paperwork. Although Pierce is used to it as a former player for the team, it's a big difference from her coaching at Salpointe, where she is sure who she is going to have for the season.

"It has been a huge adjustment. I am very OCD," she said. "I like to plan; I like to prepare. Finding out 24 or 48 hours that someone is going to be out of town has been a challenge...it's been an adjustment for me."

Camacho gives back

Karina Camacho has been with FC Tucson since the team first took the field as TSA FC in 2012. She was even able to put a few Southern California games in with the team when they were near her duty station for the US Air Force. Her tenure on the team gives her responsibilities beyond managing the midfield.

"The important part of the game for me now is to give back," she said. "Investing in the younger players, give them advice and motivation. The big thing for me is to get them to appreciate the moment. We play for an amazing club that's doing a lot for the community and playing amazing soccer."

"I tell them, above all, enjoy the game," she added.

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Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

Tucson striker Abbie Boswell takes a shot from outside the penalty area.