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FC Tucson derails Chattanooga Choo Choo with last-minute penalty kick

Perez scores his first goal of season in Saturday soccer match

In a back-and-forth affair, FC Tucson dealt the finishing blow, defeating Chattanooga Red Wolves SC 3-2 at CHI Memorial Stadium on Saturday evening. FC Tucson not only claimed its first league win on the season, but the victory also gives the soccer club the all-time advantage in the series with the Red Wolves at 3-2-2.

Jimmie Villalobos opened the scoring early, tapping in Moe Espinoza's cross for the home team. It wouldn't be until the second half that Tucson would find its opener via a Luca Mastrantonio header in the 55th minute. In a scoring flurry, Chattanooga's Rafa Mentzingen would score in the 62nd minute before Louis Perez scored in the 71st to knot things up. The dagger would come from Tucson as Daniel Bedoya slotted home a penalty kick in stoppage time.

'Our best football'

It was an important win for FC Tucson’s still-young season. The result was their first three points, their first win on the road and, biggest of all, the win was against the league leaders.

“We played our best football,” said coach Jon Pearlman. “Things were going well (at the end) and we thought about closing up shop and taking the point, but we went for it. We gotta give credit to Elijah Wynder credit for finding that pen and Danny came on and was great tonight.”

The team managed to score three goals despite still having key offensive players like Franco Pérez and João Delgado out with injuries.

“I thought the best part was that this was a group of guys I picked for their character and resiliency,” he added. “They showed up...they dug deep.”

There are still things that need to be worked on. Pearlman admitted that the first goal was soft, and that the Red Wolves were able to stretch FC Tucson’s defense too easily.

“I’m so upset that we are conceding the way we are conceding,” he said. “Then again, there are not a lot of teams that can put a three spot on Chattanooga on the road”

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FC Tucson’s next match will be against Tormenta FC at Kino on Saturday.

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USL League One

FC Tucson midfielder Burke Fahling