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FC Tucson women advance in playoffs; Men squeak into postseason

Ranieri gets brace for women; German nets 2 for men

FC Tucson’s women’s side is one step closer to the Women’s Premiere Soccer League championship after an emphatic 3 - 0 win over Fresno FC in Seattle on Saturday afternoon.

It was Fresno’s first shutout and first loss of the year.

Given Fresno’s record, a prediction of that score line would have been laughable, but FC Tucson quickly established dominance over the game. Despite not scoring, they outshot Fresno 15 - 5 in the first half.

After the match, coach Amy Garelick called the lack of scoring in the first half “worrisome.” Those worries were gone by minutes into the second half when Alison Raniere, the Eastern Washington forward who played her first FC Tucson match as a high schooler, forced the Fresno keeper to come way off her line and sent the ball past her as she went to ground.

It took only moments for Bri Barriero to lengthen the lead. The University of Texas El Paso player chipped it past the keeper despite being double-teamed by the Fresno defense.

Raniere closed things off for the team when again, the Fresno keeper came off her line as the FC Tucson forward advanced. The arc of the shot went over the keeper’s head as a Fresno defender desperately tried to stop Raniere.

“Our players were so professional with how the carried themselves and how they played,” said Garelick after the match. “It was fun to watch their maturity and their intelligent play.”

The team will be playing against the Seattle Sounders Women on Sunday afternoon for the regional championship. The Sounders won 4-3 after squelching a second half comeback from LA Villa on Saturday.

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By the skin of their teeth

FC Tucson’s men’s side has traditionally secured their spot in the Premier Development League playoffs before the final weeks of the season. This time, however, they had to wait until the very last match to find out if they were in.

The team secured second place in the Mountain Division, but had to be the best second place team among the three Western Conference divisions to get into the playoffs. The only other team in contention for that title was FC Tucson’s sometime rival, Ventura County Fusion.

FC Tucson did their job with a 3 - 1 Saturday afternoon win in Colorado Springs over the Colorado Pride Switchbacks thanks to goals from A. J. Gonzalez and Damian German, plus a late penalty from German.

That didn’t secure a place in the playoffs. A win in the nighttime match by Ventura would mean that they would be in the tournament.

Ventura couldn’t pull it off over Golden State Force. They fell 1 - 0. Ecstatic FC Tucson players, who had been watching the live stream of the match, tweeted out their celebrations.

Golden State Force, who finished on top of the Southwest Division, will be hosting the Western Conference tournament in Whittier, California, July 20 and 21.

Whatever happened to that guy?

Ventura County Fusion can’t blame a lack of good personnel for their loss. The Fusion is usually a good pipeline to bigger and better things. MLS players Bryan Byrne, Chance Myers, Gyasi Zardes and the Farfán brothers all came through the team. Former FC Tucson coach and Philippine national team player Henry Brauner came through the squad too.

The team’s got a record of preparing stars for the future, so fans might have been a bit surprised to see an older star when they spotted a recognizable dreadlocked head in the starting 11: former U.S. National team star Jermaine Jones.

He ended his time in top level soccer with a surprisingly undistinguished season with the LA Galaxy in 2017. Since being cut from the Galaxy, he has been working on the staff of various Los Angeles area clubs while he tries to get a coaching license.

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FC Tucson

FC Tucson’s starting lineup against Fresno FC