Tucson Soccer Academy Football Club team shot.

Courtesy TSAFC

TSAFC  garnered a split on a tough season-opening road trip to Southern California on May 17-18, defeating league newcomer Legends FC 2-0 on Saturday before falling to powerful Beach FC 5-1 on Sunday.

Behind some stalwart defending and two clinical counterattack goals, TSAFC grabbed a 2-0 victory to kick off its WPSL Pacific South Division campaign.  After just one week of practice, the scrappy affair went as expected with clear scoring chances at a minimum for both teams. On this cool, breezy evening however, the visitors from Tucson created three of the best ones, converting two, to take home the win. 

Forward Shannon Shields (Sabino HS/Sam Houston State) opened the scoring at the 15 minute mark.  A clever dummy by Karina Camacho (Cienega/Long Beach State) sent Priscilla Pimienta (Mountain View/University of Arizona) in behind the defense on the right flank.  Her cross found Shields on the back post for the easy conversion.  Forward Justene Kesterson (Mountain View/University of Arizona)   doubled the advantage six minutes before halftime when Sylvia Sanchez’s through ball sent Kesterson in.  After muscling by a defender, Kesterson calmly slotted her shot by the keeper to make it 2-0.  The second half saw Legends press assiduously to narrow the deficit to no avail.  Outstanding defense by center backs Kelly Kearns (Salpointe/Pima College) and Madi Kinzer (Ironwood Ridge/Oklahoma) and holding midfielders Nicole Lindsay  (UTEP)and Bre Parkinson (Sahuaro HS) thwarted each attack.  Goalkeepers Chandler Morris (Arizona State) and Shantel Wittke (Sahuaro/San Angelo State) combined for six saves en route to the shutout. 

Head Coach Amy Garelick was pleased with the effort:  “This was a great start to a new season in a new division (Pacific – South).  Legends will be a handful as the season goes on.  We battled the whole 90 minutes and earned our two goals.  Hard work got us this win.”

A stiffer challenge awaited TSAFC the following day at noon in a match with Beach FC.  The experienced home side dominated start to finish earning a resounding 5-1 victory.  Using the full-sized field to their advantage, Beach spread the field well and put the visitors under the gun throughout most of the first half.  Beach was rewarded for their fine play at the 15 minute mark on a scramble off of a free kick outside the box on the left flank.  A superb individual effort by Beach’s Shannon Simon resulted in the second goal.  Simon beat two players and then TSAFC goalkeeper Morris with a high driven shot to the far post. 

TSAFC regrouped at halftime and pressed the home side after the intermission only to see a third Beach goal in the 53rd minute against the run of play.  TSAFC clawed their way back into the contest with a goal in the 64th minute when midfielders Bre Barreiro (UTEP) and Lindsay combined on a lovely chip and finish to give Lindsay her first goal of the season.  While pressing for a second goal, TSAFC was hit on the counterattack to effectively end the contest.  Another late goal by Beach ended the scoring at 5-1. 

According to Assistant Coach Todd Garelick, “It was a tough match with a short turnaround from Saturday night. Beach has always been and continues to be a dominant program and continually battles for the division title. They were a tremendous side and taught us a few things about playing and competing at the highest level. We look forward to the return leg, but first have our sights on May 31st and our home opener at Kino North vs LA Premier. “

TSAFC’s next match is on May 31 at 5:15 PM at Kino North Stadium as part of a doubleheader with FC Tucson, who face the Southern California Seahorses at 7:30 PM. 

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