Done & dusted: FC Tucson braves low-grade haboob, escapes Mesa with draw
Sanchez ties it up; Laura Pimienta gets 2 assists
MESA - FC Tucson traveled to Bell Bank Park in the sprawling East Valley on Friday to brave wind, dust and artificial turf to grind out a 2 - 2 draw with Arizona Arsenal.
The first half was played almost entirely in the middle third of the field, with neither team having a shot or even look at goal until 20 minutes into the match. FC Tucson's first chance came after Ashly Martinez was subbed into the match. Her shot sailed over the goal.
It didn't take long for Arsenal to find its own chances. The second of which found home after an error from Hope Hisey. Arsenal's Siera Herbert made it past the defense and found herself alone when she made a short range shot. Hisey saved it, but wasn't able to control the ball and it rolled back to Herbert's feet. Her second shot made it over Hisey.
The second half started with a dust storm, probably not enough to call it a haboob, but enough to get a bit of grit in one's nose and mouth. It gave a bit of an advantage to Tucson, since the wind blew towards Arsenal's goal.
Through the wind and dust, team captain and defender Laura Pimienta sent the ball to Ella Rustand, who got the ball past the Arsenal keeper.
Arsenal retook the lead at the hour mark with a goal from Renee Sainz.
Aryanna Sanchez, a one-time Salpointe Lancer, tied up the match after finishing a free kick from Pimienta.
An often chippy Arsenal side earned a yellow card for fouls and several verbal warnings from the referee, in addition, the conditions were not ideal.
"We adapted really well; we figured out how to play through it," said goal scorer Rustand of the wind storm that lasted through the first 20 minutes of the first half. "The wind was intense but we learned to play around it by moving the ball fast."
The heat, wind and dust created some problems to be sure, but also the team was playing on a turf field when several grass fields at the facility were vacant.
"It's unfortunate," said Kelly Pierce after the match. "It's a huge disadvantage to both teams. It tears up the bodies, and we've got a game in 48 hours."
"We were hesitant; we didn't take enough shots," said Peirce of the team's play. "We need to do that…we've wasted opportunities on set pieces often so to finally capitalize on one was nice."
The team plays at home on Sunday with a match against long time foe SC Del Sol.