Tucson Soccer Academy FC remains undefeated with win over Utahby Andy Morales on Jun. 28, 2013, under Sports
The Tucson Soccer Academy FC (TSAFC) remained undefeated in the Big Sky North Division of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) with their 3-2 victory over the Utah Starzz (2-2-1) on Friday night.
The victory added 3 more points to their total, giving TSAFC a total of 12 points to take over first place in the Division from Phoenix del Sol (3-2). Phoenix has 9 points and is scheduled to host Utah on Saturday morning at 10 am in Casa Grande. (A win is worth 3 points, a tie is worth 1 point and 3 points are taken away on a forfeit).
Officially, TSAFC only held a slight 7-6 lead over Utah in shots on goal but the quality of those shots made it look like Tucson was going to run away with another victory but they only count went they hit the net.
Having won by scores of 5-0 (St. George United), 7-0 (St. George United) and 4-2 (Real Salt Lake Women), Tucson had not been tested until Utah came in and battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the match in the 79th minute.
For midfielder and future Arizona Wildcat Laura Pimienta, the battle was something the team may have needed. “We heard they were one of the best teams and it made us come out and want to fight,” explained Pimienta. “It was really nerve-racking when they came back and tied it.”
Pimienta put Tucson up 1-0 in the 29th minute but the team had already put together a couple of excellent scoring opportunities before, including a header from Justene Kesterson (Arizona) that flew just over the right hand of Utah keeper Kat Snyder (BYU) and just inches over the crossbar.
“I didn’t start the game,” said Pimienta. “So I came in and fought for the ball and took advantage of a bad pass.”
The crossbar became Snyder’s best friend as Shannon Shields (Sam Houston), Pimienta and Kesterson took turns putting the ball just over it. Down only 1-0, Utah almost came down and tied it with a flurry of shots in the final moments before the half but Tucson goalie Shantel Wittke (Arkansas Little Rock) was able to hold firm.
Tucson continued their attack after the half and Kesterson missed on a shot only 30 seconds into the second half. Karina Camacho (Long Beach State) missed on another shot moments later and Madison Irwin (New Mexico) took a header on a comeback at point-blank range only to have Utah come up with one of their two off the line saves.
Kesterson took another shot a minute later but it glanced off the left post. Kesterson was able to recover and found Irwin in the 64th minute on a cross-pass in front of the goal to put Tucson up 2-0.
Jaiden Thornock (BYU) put Utah on the board in the 66th minute and the teams played even until Lexi Dunn (Utah Valley) found her college teammate Shalayne Janis on a cross-pass that Janis was able to head in to tie the match 2-2 in the 79th minute.
Kesterson broke through in the 88th minute on a pass from Jordan Davidson (Vanguard) to give Tucson the 3-2 and the win. “I really wanted that goal,” said Kesterson.
“On a couple of my shots it looked like no one was standing in front of me but things happen for a reason and I’m glad I made the last shot,” she added.
For Kesterson, a game against a competitive team made the night a lot of “fun” but, most of the TSAFC players agree there is one athlete on their team who takes competition to another level.
Kelly Kearns was a standout soccer player at Salpointe who then went on to play at Pima but, for the 31-year-old and mother of three boys, that seems like a lifetime ago.
“I’m the old lady,” joked Kearns. “After Pima I played for the old Sonoran Thunder team before it folded and then started to have kids but I always stayed in shape.”
Tyler is 11, Brady is 6 and Camden is only 2. For my money, Kearns has to be the most fit and skilled athlete in Tucson – especially after delivering a baby only two years ago. “Some of the girls joke and ask me not to take the lead in drills,” said Kearns.
If you have ever taken a college class then you know there is always someone a lot older in some classes who always seems to “blow the curve” for everyone else, causing the other students to either step up their studies or be left behind. When you are an athlete, no one wants to be left behind.
“I had fun playing indoor soccer and co-ed soccer,” Kearns added. “I don’t belong to a club or anything like that. I just ran my treadmill and did my own workouts. When this team came along all my friends forced me to tryout.”
Kearns wears the “Captain” armband for a reason and it is clear why once you watch one of Tucson’s games. Some of the parents of the young women who have just graduated from high school only a few weeks ago see Kearns as a role model, an example and an inspiration.
Throw in the excellent coaching staff, the high skill level of the local talent and Kearn’s leadership and it is easy to understand why TSAFC is one of the best teams in the WPSL.
TSAFC will be tested again by Phoenix on Tuesday, July 2 in Casa Grande at 7 pm and then at home on July 6 against Phoenix again. That match will be played next Saturday at 5:15 pm. There is plenty of seating and the concession stands sell almost everything including beer.
ROSTER vs. UTAH STARZZ
Midfielder Karina Camacho, Long Beach State (Cienega/Arizona)
Forward Caitlin Cartwright, Grand Canyon (Cienega)
Forward Jordan Davidson, Vanguard (Mountain View)
Defender Kelly Farrell, San Francisco (Salpointe)
Defender Kathy Fisher, Pima (Sahuaro)
Defender Elizabeth Fritz, Winona State (Ironwood Ridge)
Defender Karina Gabino, TSA ’95 Girls Red (Mountain View/Arizona)
Midfielder Karli Hedlund, University of Arizona
Midfielder Madison Irwin, TSA ’95 Girls Red (Catalina/New Mexico)
Defender Kelly Kearns, Sonoran Thunder (Salpointe/Pima)
Forward Justene Kesterson, TSA ’95 Girls Red (Mountain View/Arizona)
Defender Kaitlyn Lopez, University of Arizona (Ironwood Ridge)
Midfielder Breanna Parkinson, Sereno SC ’95 Girls White (Sahuaro)
Midfielder Laura Pimienta, TSA ’95 Girls Red (Mountain View/Arizona)
Defender Morgan Rooney, TSA ’95m Girls Red (Catalina Foothills/ Concordia)
For/Mdflder Shannon Shields, TSA ’95 Girls Red (Sabino/Sam Houston)
Midfielder LeeAndra Smith, University of Arizona (Palo Verde)
Forward Leilani Skinner, Cal State Bakersfield (Sahuaro)
Defender Alexis Torres, TSA ’95 Girls Red (Palo Verde)
Goalkeeper Shantel Wittke, Arkansas Little Rock (Sahuaro)
Amy Garelick, TSA FC Head Coach
Todd Garelick, Assistant Coach
Charlie Kendrick, Assistant Coach
Charlie MacCabe, Assistant Coach
Paul David Seldis, Assistant Coach