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FC Tucson’s women’s side has to take a draw against Players SC

Leightner scores her first for the team; Tucsonenses will end weekend in Albuquerque

After an at-times frustrating match, FC Tucson's women's side left the field at Kino North Stadium with a 1 - 1 draw to Las Vegas-based Players SC on Friday night.

Players had their first shot in the first minute of the match. It crashed against the crossbar, but it started a rough opening 20 minutes. FC Tucson found itself pinned into their final third of the field and goalkeeper Hope Halsey was called on for several saves.

After a scoreless first half, FC Tucson finally connected in minute 57. Hannah Leightner connected with a pass from former Pima and University of Arizona standout Brandi Park and slipped it past the otherwise indefatigable Players keeper.

The lead was as short-lived as an obscure isotope. Players earned a free kick a few yards outside the box right after the restart. Gabriela Glen found the back of the net to level up the match.

Tucson had some more tries at the goal, but the match ended in a tie. The draw puts both teams at 4 points and tied for third in the league's Desert Division.

Frustrations

The lone goal for the home side was from Hannah Leightner, who trains at Real Salt Lake's Arizona academy. To her, scoring was just a matter of finishing an opportunity.

"I knew we had to follow up on it and I knew that if I just got a chance to get a foot on it, that I could get in the goal," she said after the match. "We had so many chances before and I knew a goal was coming, so I made sure to follow up."

Leightner found the number of chances that didn't result in goal "frustrating," a sentiment shared by coach Kelly Pierce.

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"Once we found the seams, we got in and continually exposed them. We couldn't capitalize; we couldn't finish," she said. "We were just a little off...as many times as we got in we couldn't capitalize."

"We are struggling finishing. It's a huge part of the game, obviously," she added. "It's just something we need to work on."

Whatever work she's hoping to do in training, it will have to wait until after the next game to do it. The team leaves for Albuquerque on Saturday for a Sunday match against Sol FC. FC Tucson beat them 2 - 1 last week and they are near the bottom of the table with one win after two matches.

Travel woes

Away games in the WPSL, especially in the Desert Division that FC Tucson plays in that covers three states, can be hard to mount. The players often have other obligations and can't make the longer road trips. A quick view of the Players SC bench showed this. They had one substitute.

Instead of rotating who went in and out of the match, that substitute, Ruth Morgan, was switched in and out of the game several times for midfielder Gia Barrone. It meant that the other 9 field players were going to be stuck out there and getting worn down.

Coach Kelly Pierce, however, warned her players not to pay attention to the lack of subs on the other side.

"We told them don't look at the bench because you are going to underestimate them," she said. "They are going to play harder knowing they don't have that, they are going to push it."

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