The players and staff of Tucson Soccer Academy FC have seen a lot of heartbreak over the past month.
Tuesday night’s match had its share of anguishing moments as well — two offensive chances were cleared off the line — but the local women’s development team was able to end a five-match losing streak with a 1-1 draw against Phoenix Del Sol at Kino Sports Complex North Stadium.
Mackenzie German’s equalizer gave her team its first point since June 11. TSAFC was coming off consecutive 1-0 losses.
“That’s the first goal we’ve scored in three and a half games,” TSAFC coach Amy Garelick said. “That was really nice.”
TSAFC is 1-7-2 in the Women’s Premier Soccer League, with both draws coming against Phoenix.
But, as Garelick has said since putting the team together last season, the results are of secondary importance.
“As much as we want to win, we know this is a stopgap for all these girls who are playing in college,” Garelick said. “We don’t spend as much time working on set pieces because we let them just play a ton and get touches, so when they start (in college) they’re prepared.
“This is not the end of their careers. This is such a great environment. They’re getting great games. What’s the other alternative — training on your own?”
The goal drought ended in dramatic fashion when German cracked a 40-yarder in open play that sailed into the upper-right corner to tie the match in the 17th minute.
“I just saw space and attacked it with speed,” German said. “You have your moment, and I just took it and let it rip.”
German’s goal came just six minutes after Cali Farquharson gave Phoenix (1-6-3) the lead.
TSAFC had most of the chances in the second half, while Phoenix spent most of the final 45 defending.
The Tucson team has two more WPSL matches left in the season. Both are at home.
FC Tucson wins exhibition
One of the reasons coach Rick Schantz likes exhibition matches is that they give him a chance to run out some of the younger players.
Six members of FC Tucson’s academy team played a part, three of them taking crucial roles, in a 2-0 victory over Menlo of the Menlo Soccer League in the opening match of Tuesday’s doubleheader.
Erik “Gallo” Virgen, a 14-year-old who is playing his first season in the academy, netted both goals as FC Tucson won its fourth straight match.
“I thought (the academy players) were some of the best players on the field,” Schantz said. “They almost played with that scared nervousness. So they played very simple and they moved the ball fast. In the first half, we were holding onto it and we had too much time.
“They played the way we should play.”
Virgen headed in a cross by Sebastian De Rada in the 48th minute to make it 1-0. Virgen doubled the lead when he toe-poked in a cross from fellow academy member Julian Gaona in the 60th minute.
“It was very exciting. We work so hard and the hard work pays off,” said Virgen, whose nickname “Gallo” means Rooster and was also the nickname of his father, who played for Club Atlas in Mexico.
Anthony Siaha, 16, who plays for Tucson High School with Gaona, went the full 90 minutes between the posts for FC Tucson.
“That could be the FC Tucson team in four years,” Schantz said.