FC Tucson ends unbeaten streak with 1-goal loss to Arsenal
Defeat leaves narrowest of chances for playoff appearance
FC Tucson’s unbeaten streak ended after a contest with Arizona Arsenal on Friday night. The soccer team from Mesa left town with a 1-0 win at Kino North Stadium.
FC Tucson's women's squad had the better of the first half, outshooting Arsenal 14 - 3 (only one of Arsenal’s shots was on target). Some shots caromed off the crossbar, but some, especially those from Ashly Martinez, forced spectacular saves from Arsenal keeper Jazmyn Brass.
Although Tucson kept the ball in Arsenal’s side of the field for most of the first half, the fact that they couldn’t score gave the visitors a bit of a lift in the second half. They had more shots and finally got one past Tucson keeper Hope Hisey when a post-corner kick pinball game ended with Maya Gaona getting the ball to the back of the net.
Unsurprisingly, the mood after the match was one of regret that none of those first half chances landed.
“It was a great effort by us. I thought that we did dominate,” said coach Kelly Pierce. “We had tons of shots, but none of them dropped in for us.”
Pierce singled out praise for her backline that kept Arsenal from being dangerous for much of the match. That defense was led, once again, by team captain Laura Pimienta.
“We came in with our game plan; Kelly does a good job of that,” she said. “We were executing the plan from the first minute. That’s when we saw success.”
“I think we started the second half a bit sloppy,” she added.
The team’s postseason fate is largely out of their hands. Saturday, Arsenal plays SC Del Sol. If Arsenal manages a win, it would put them in first place and FC Tucson would have to beat Del Sol next week to end up in second. Arsenal has already bowed out of the playoffs, so that spot would go to whoever is in second place.
In any case, FC Tucson has a thousand reasons to beat Del Sol, their rival since 2013. Among them is redemption for a draw on June 17 when Del Sol had two last-minute goals that tranformed a near-sure-win for Tucson into a draw. Just being able to end the season on a high note is another motivation.
The first order of business is to get over this match.
“Let us learn from this and feel it tonight, it’s going to hurt a bit,” said Pierce. “That’s part of the process…we move on because we’ve got a huge game to look forward to.”
FC Tucson’s match against SC Del Sol, their last of the season, will be at Reach 11 in Phoenix next Saturday.