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Posted Jul 7, 2012, 8:50 am
FC Tucson began its final home stand with an emphatic win over the Brigham Young University Cougars Friday night at Kino Sports Complex. Tucson defeated the men from Provo three goals to none.
Tucson pressed early and gave the Cougars few chances in the opening 30 minutes of the game. Ricardo Velasco—a Real Salt Lake academy graduate who just joined the team this week—created danger with his runs from the right, often ending up alone with the keeper, but the young player's chances often ended up wide or over the crossbar.
Tucson's thrusts into the back third did, however, result in corner kicks. They capitalized on it in the 35th minute when Carlos Montes sent a corner kick to James Cohn who got it past BYU's keeper, Brian Hale.
It was only moments later that BYU nearly equalized. Michael D'Arrigo had to jump to tip the ball over the crossbar. After what seemed like an over long amount of stoppage time, FC Tucson headed to the locker room up 1-0.
Any worries that Tucson would let up and allow BYU back into the game in the second half were quickly ended when Carlos Montes took a wide pass from Donny Toia and scored only a minute after kick-off. It was a feat he repeated, this time from a pass from Ricardo Velasco, in the 49th minute.
The pair of goals made Montes the first FC Tucson player to score two goals in a single match this season.
As the half wore on, it became time for Tucson to settle back. BYU got more possession and had more chances at goal. The two most dangerous shots came around the hour mark. The Cougars caught Michael D'Arrigo out of position on both chances, necessitating Reid Schmitt and Conor Spence to make saves on the line. Schmitt's saved a sure goal by an impossible-looking kick that flipped the ball over the crossbar, Spence's save came in a more standard but still heroic goal-line slide tackle that sent the ball out of danger.
The sudden burst of offensive power from the Beehive State squad showed in the stats: the team only managed four shots in the first half, but recorded eleven in the second.
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Despite the scares that BYU gave Tucson's back line, they were unable to score. The game ended with Tucson up by three goals. The game marks the seventh shutout that the team has had, the third with Michael D'Arrigo between the pipes. BYU's loss takes them out of playoff contention. The three points keeps Tucson on track to end the season in first or second place and in the playoffs.
Schantz on Montes, Toia
"Carlos has had a great week in training," Coach Rick Schantz said of Carlos Montes, who was involved in all three goals scored by the team. "He's one of our cleanest players technically. He's also the most fit. He's the hardest worker from start to finish."
"It was just a matter of finding the right area for him," he continued.
The team played a dominant game for 60 minutes, but breakdowns later in the second half could have given BYU a chance to get back into the game. Schantz attributes the problem to communication.
"The midfield dropped off of their midfield, but the defense was still playing a high line," he said. "They were able to get through us a little bit."
Schantz also had praise for Donny Toia, who played a variety of positions on the field, starting as an attacking midfielder but gradually being pulled back. Near the end of the game, he was virtually a right back. Schantz acknowledged that Toia had "emotional toubles" in Tuesday night's friendly, where he got a ejected for fighting, but was impressed with his work against BYU.
"For him to play as well as he did tonight, in as many positions as he did tonight, credit to him," he said.
How'd he do that?
Both Reid Schmitt and Conor Spence were called on to make goal line saves. Schmitt had the more spectacular one: a BYU forward foiled an offside trap and caught D'Arrigo out of position. Schmitt ran to the goal and managed to get to the ball within inches of the goal line. Somehow, he flipped the ball over the crossbar.
How'd he do it? He's not sure either.
"I tracked back and cleared it and I kneed it over," he said. "I'm just mindblown how I saved it."
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'Two brilliant goals'
"FC Tucson is a good team, they finished their chances," BYU defender Jon Junca said after the match. "We missed a few chances, it's unfortunate. They played well and deserved to win."
"Tucson scored two brilliant goals," said coach Chris Watkins. "Hats off to them."
Even though they play in the Premier Development League, BYU is structured like a college team. Watkins acknowledges that his team is younger and less experienced than in past years.
"This wasn't going to be our best year. We only have one senior," he said. "This is a very young team. We feel good about doing this well," he said talking about the number of chances his team had.
The Cactus Pricks, FC Tucson's supporters' group, was in full voice Friday night. Watkins thinks that the boisterous fan support is a plus for the team.
"Those guys were great. Hopefully, it's a developing thing," he said. "We're not lucky enough to have twenty guys that yell like that the whole game. Surely that will build the crowd here. Good thing going here."
"We're not used to fans like that," Junca said. "They try to get into your head. They did a little bit."
"They were definitely talking a lot more than we experienced in the past."
Defender Kareem Smith only played a few minutes before being subbed out of the game. He re-injured his thigh and will be out for Sunday's game against Ogden. If the team wins that match, Schantz hopes to rest Kareem for the final two games so he will be better rested for the playoffs.