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FC Tucson women prepare for final home match

Win would put them back in first place, at least temporarilly

When the team opens their match with Arizona Arsenal on Friday night, FC Tucson will do so as the second-place team in the Desert Conference. It’s an unusual spot for them. In the last two seasons, the team entered their penultimate matches already having clinched first.

A match two weeks ago against SC Del Sol should have been a win, but two late-match goals denied the team a full three points. Last week’s match should have been a way to make up ground, but the game was canceled due to lightning and with the opponent, Atomic CIty SC, unwilling to reschedule, another chance at three points was lost.

The weather and capricious league rules lost them last week’s points, but the way the Del Sol game was lost still grates on coach Kelly Pierce. She chalks some of it up to the youth of the team.

“It was a combination of things,” she said. “You can clearly hear me yelling from the sideline trying to get them to slow it down, manage the clock, telling them to go to the corner…that’s just inexperience.”

“That’s part of what this is about: teaching these younger girls more about the game that you think you know and then a moment like that…people can get complacent,” she added.

The young players have also contributed a lot to the team’s wins. Pierce picked Naija Bruckner, who is looking to be a walk on at Rice University in the fall, for special praise.

“We have so many solid players out there, but she has earned her way into the starting position from the beginning,” she said. “Very smart player, her movement off the ball is incredible especially for someone her age. She’s a very smart player.”

Friday night’s match will be against a team FC Tucson only played three weeks ago. That match, played in Mesa during a dust storm on artificial turf, ended in a back-and-forth 2 - 2 draw.

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“It was really poor conditions, but being able to play them at home on our field with our fans will be an advantage for us,” she said. “They are a really good team. Our girls had tenacity and grit and kept coming back…I’m looking forward to it.”

The team is currently two points behind Del Sol. A win would put FC Tucson, at least temporarily, in the top spot. Del Sol plays Arizona Arsenal on Saturday. In any event, the bragging rights and a postseason spot would likely be decided by the final game of the season between FC Tucson and Del Sol next Friday.

The match between Arizona Arsenal and FC Tucson kicks off at Kino North Stadium at 7 p.m.

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Joshua Pearson/TucsonSentinel.com

Coach Kelly Pierce