TSA FC soccer
New division for TSA FC brings tougher slate of teams
Local side already has a split on the road, but new opponents include current champs
TSA FC had an enviable debut season in the Women’s Premier Soccer League last year. They ended their season with only a single draw and one loss and outscored their opponents 30–9. They had six matches where they scored three or more goals, including a 7–0 thrashing of St. George United.
They have been moved to the Pacific South Division this year, and if there was any notion that their new season would be the cake walk their first was, Sunday’s 5–1 loss to Beach Fútbol Club eliminated that.
That’s just the way TSA coach Amy Garelick wants it.
“It’s more competitive for sure, and we knew it would be,” she said at practice this week. “That’s why we wanted to get into that division. We do this so we can get better, and you only do that by playing the most difficult teams.”
“It’s going to be better for us in the long run,” said team captain Kelly Kearns. “It’s going to force us to step up our game and be better. It’s definitely a challenge though.”
The team’s new division includes the San Diego SeaLions. The SeaLions eliminated TSA FC from the playoffs last year and went on to be the league’s champions.
The weekend to Southern California was far from a disaster for the team. They won Saturday’s match against Legends FC 2—0. The goals were scored by Shannon Shields and Wildcat Justene Kesterson. Returning TSA FC player Karina Camacho had the assist on Sheilds’s fifteenth-minute goal.
“Coming away with a split for the weekend is exciting,” said Garelick. “Any time you can get a split on the road is good.”
Even with returning players like Camacho, Kearns and goalkeeper Chandler Morris (all three of whom earned postseason honors last year), many of the players are new. It has meant Garelick is still trying to establish the team’s tactical style.
“We are still trying to figure that out,” she said. “On Sunday we started with a 4-2-3-1, then we had to switch it at some point … our formation and our style of play is going to be dictated by what kind of teams we play.”
Among the players added to the squad this year are Brianna Barriero from the University of Texas-El Paso, and a familiar face for University of Arizona fans, Jaden DeGracie, who played for Phoenix del Sol last year.
The team has a bye this weekend before taking on LA Premier FC in their first home match. In the case of Kearns, it will give her a chance to heal up a sprained ankle she sustained early in the match at Beach FC. She finished the match, but wore a brace at practice this week. The layoff also presents other opportunities for the players.
“They are catching up on fitness, which we realized after the last weekend that we really have to do,” said Kearns. “The team we are playing is top notch; they just beat the SeaLions. Everybody is getting mentally and physically prepared for it.”
TSA FC opens up their season as the first part of a double header with FC Tucson on Saturday, May 31. The action at Kino North Stadium kicks off with TSA FC taking on LA Premier FC at 5:30 p.m., followed by FC Tucson in a non-conference match with Southern California Seahorses at 7:30 p.m.