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FC Tucson earns critical win over Seahorses

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FC Tucson earns critical win over Seahorses

Clark earns brace from 9-man SoCal

  • Teams take the field in La Mirada before Thursday night's match.
    Ted Prezelski/TucsonSentinel.comTeams take the field in La Mirada before Thursday night's match.

LA MIRADA, Calif. - With BYU clawing at them in the standings, FC Tucson needed a win against the Southern California Seahorses on Thursday night to put some distance between them and their conference opponents. Their 2-1 victory was made easier by two red cards.

FC Tucson owner most of the possession for the early part of the match, but SoCal's Josh Clark, who also plays for Wheaton College, tested Tucson netminder Billy Thompson early with a shot in the 17th minute.

Even with that attempt, it was FC Tucson who scored first. Midfielder Ricardo Velazco crossed the ball to Clark Phillips, who calmly poked it into the lower far corner of the net.

FC Tucson enjoyed the bulk of possession after that, with even defender Otis Earl coming up the field to take a shot.

In minute 37, Zack Klindsworth, a Valencia, Calif., native who plays for The Master's College, earned a surprising red card for taking down Ricardo Velazco. Playing with 10 men seemed to get the team going, however. SoCal had several more looks at goal in the waning minutes of the half, including from the wonderfully named Saxx Adams.

It wouldn't continue into the second half. In the 57th minute, a long pass from the center line from Josh Phillips found the head of Clark Phillips who knocked it into the goal. It was the first time the non-fraternal Phillips pair combined for a goal.

SoCal could have lived with the goal, but less than two minutes later, Nate Nugent took down FC Tucson's Peter Kelly. Although it looked like a run of the mill, albeit hard, foul, referee Adrian Gonzales reached in his pocket and found the red card again. SoCal would be playing with goalkeeper Hayden Coffman plus eight field players for the rest of the match.

After that, coach Rick Schantz looked at the match as an opportunity for his bench players. Five were brought in after the card, and four had shots on goal. It was only the strong goalkeeping of Coffman that kept the match from being a rout.

The only bit of hope for the Seahorses came in stoppage time when Jeremiah Wright, a second-half substitute forward, was brought down in the box. Geoffrey Bowman easily buried the penalty kick. The Seahorses nobly tried to rally in the final seconds of the match, but the whistle blew and they had another loss to add to their dismal record this year.

Top of the table

Not only did the win help in the standings (the team is now four points ahead of second place BYU), but it was a good indicator for where the team is mentally, especially after a poorly played match against Ventura County last week.

"I think the loss opened our eyes a little bit and just got us refocused on our priorities," said Clark Phillips.

That renewed focus will be important for Saturday's game against OC Pateadores Blues on Saturday. FC Tucson easily dispatched the Blues earlier this season, staging a 7-0 demolition derby back against their depleted squad on May 17.

FC Tucson's Schantz doesn't expect the same out of this match.

"I expect them to be really strong at home," he said."They have players from UCLA that just let out. I expect those players to be there on Saturday."

The UCLA players have made a big difference. While FC Tucson were casually putting away SoCal, the Blues were pulverizing Las Vegas 7-0. Two of those goals, by the way, were scored by former FC Tucson player Saeed Robinson.

The Las Vegas match had an affect on FC Tucson too. The result means that Tucson will end the season in either first or second place in the Mountain Division, assuring the team of a playoff spot and putting them in contention for a berth in next year's US Open Cup.

Schantz still wants to concentrate on the games he has left this season.

"We want to win Saturday no matter what," he said. "It's the next game we play and it's all we are talking about. The focus has not been on anything after that."

Southern California Seahorses v FC Tucson

La Mirada High School, La Mirada, Calif.

Scoring summary
FCT: Clark Phillips (20')
FCT: C. Phillips (56')
SOC: Geoff Bowman (pk 90'+)
Misconduct summary
FCT: Connor Brandt (caution, 35')
SOC: Zach Klindsworth (ejected, 36')
SOC: Nate Nugent (ejected, 59')
FCT: Austin Ledbetter (caution, 78')
FC Tucson: Billy Thompson – Otis Earl, Greg Carter, Josh Phillips, Edgar Reyna (Austin Ledbetter 60') – Peter Kelly (Ryan Felix 73'), Connor Brandt (Sebastian de Rada 63'), Tim Harbison (Max Ornstill 60') – Ricardo Velazco, Vance Rookwood (Dan Antoniuk 46'), Clark Phillips (Tommy Ramos 73')
Southern California Seahorses: Hayden Coffman – Mitch Paur, Cody Catano (Jared Odenbeck 46'), Alvaro Beltran, Michael Hodgen – Zach Klindworth (ejected 36'), Matt Raines (Nate Nugent 46', ejected 59'), Josh Clark (Keyran Kelly 67'), Jon Clark (Geoffrey Bowman 46') – Michael Cunningham (Jeremiah Wright 67'), Saxx Adams (James Bogdanovich 46')

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