When FC Tucson’s women’s team took a commanding 2-0 lead in the 85th minute against top-seed SC del Sol back on June 19, a victory seemed all but assured. Kate Connelly had found the back of the net on a crossing assist from Ellie Robinson to put FC Tucson in position to win its fourth game of the season.
Then the club gave up two quick, unlikely goals: One in the 89th minute, then the tying one in the 93rd. FC Tucson’s women were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw.
The team’s 18-game unbeaten streak stayed intact, but it was a reminder that there’s always work to be done.
“I think they got a little complacent, a little too comfortable,” FC Tucson coach Kelly Pierce said. “It was painful, for sure.”
FC Tucson (3-0-2) has two games remaining in the WPSL regular season, starting with Friday’s home finale against Arizona Arsenal. FC Tucson sits just two points behind SC del Sol for first place in the Desert Conference; the two teams will meet July 9 in Phoenix for the regular-season finale.
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“Hopefully we’ve moved on from our mistakes,” Pierce said. “Just knowing how to manage the clock and knowing when to hold on to the ball and keep possession.”
Last weekend would have been the ideal time for those errors to be cleaned up, but storms and lightning in Tucson forced the club’s home game against Atomic City FC to be canceled. The two teams were unable to schedule a makeup game, leaving FC Tucson one game short of a full eight scheduled by the league.
“It was just really unfortunate for both teams,” Pierce said.
However, FC Tucson will still have a chance to earn points from the canceled games. WPSL rules allow for each team to earn points for canceled games based on the average number of points per game at the end of the season.
While FC Tucson tries to shake off the sting of the last two weeks, there have been plenty of positives for the club since the season began in late May.
Hope Hisey, reigning Western Desert Region Goalkeeper of the Year, is once again playing at a high caliber with two shutouts in four games in net.
“She’s come up huge for us several times,” Pierce said. “She’s always has a good head on her shoulders.”
Maddy Smith has also rotated in net and held Atomic City FC scoreless in a game on June 11.
One of the club’s newest — and most impactful — additions this year has been Ashly Martinez, who played for the U19 Mexican National Team. Martinez scored in the team’s first game of the year at El Paso then had an assist in the home opener a week later. She got her second goal on June 19 against SC del Sol.
“She can come in and shock (the opponent),” Pierce said. “She’s like a little secret weapon.”
The defense has been even more of a strength for FC Tucson during stretches of the year. The backline, anchored by Laura Pimenta and Micaela Hornstein, has kept opponents in check to go along with Hisey’s goalkeeping. The four goals allowed in five games by FC Tucson are tied for the fewest in the region.
The pieces are there for FC Tucson to continue its dominant run in the WPSL as the playoffs draw nearer. Now, it’s a matter of putting them all together and shoring up its late-game strategy.
“It’s been a really competitive season, which is really good for us,” Pierce said. “But there’s never something too small to discuss or go over.”
Contact sports producer Alec White at 573-4161 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @alecwhite_UA