First-year coach Hoauala leads Tucson High to 6A state semifinals

Bel Hoauala, a fiery, vocal coach from Tunisia, is not one to be easily satisfied.

After his Tucson High team beat Pinnacle on penalty kicks Tuesday, he was not jubilant about the dramatic win. He mentioned instead, “We were lucky to get the win. We have a lot to improve on.”

That sense of always wanting more has impacted the Badgers, who have now gone without a loss in 12 straight matches.

Their defense, goals by senior Adrian Fong and freshman Jules Komya, and impeccable goalkeeping of senior Emiliano Andraux were instrumental in Tucson beating visiting Chandler Basha 2-0 in a 6A state quarterfinal game Saturday afternoon.

Hoauala’s attention to detail was emphasized toward the end of the match when two reserves were warming up in case they entered. Hoauala turned to them while the match was ongoing and said, “That’s not the way to get warmed up,” prompting the young players to increase their intensity kicking to each other.

“I’m in my first year and I think we have to build a culture. We have to build discipline and that has to start from me. I think sometimes I get too excited on the sidelines, and I’m getting on the kids,” he said with a laugh. “But I think we have a lot of work to do with that discipline.”

Hoauala moved to Tucson (where his wife was born and raised) about 10 years ago from the East coast — he lived in New York and Pennsylvania — and he has been active in youth soccer development locally. He has coached the Tanque Verde Soccer Club and has served as the director of coaching with club team RSL-AZ Southern Arizona.

He replaced longtime head coach Ismael Arce before the season started. Arce, who led the Badgers to a state championship in 2014, passed away unexpectedly on Jan. 28 and the team is dedicating this season to him.

Hoauala respects the legacy left behind by Arce and is trying to build on what Arce worked on with the Badgers.

“I didn’t realize how long this school has been around and how many alumni there is in Tucson,” Hoauala said. “I realize we can make a difference. We can be good role models and build a program with culture that can make Tucson proud.

“Some of the players I’ve had since they were nine and 10 years old and now they are seniors. They had a good run with me when they were younger. We won state championships.”

Bel Hoauala is in his first season as Tucson’s coach (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Komya and Andraux were two of the standouts in the win by penalty kicks against Pinnacle. Komya scored one of the three goals in the 3-0 win and Andraux thwarted Pinnacle’s attempts.

Both shined again against Basha with Komya scoring the first goal off a pass from Fong at the 38-minute mark and Andraux stopping a few shots on goal, particularly after Basha’s corner kicks. He leaped for a couple of stops.

Komya’s goal looked like a sideways banana kick with his body shielding the goalie until he quickly turned and kicked vertically without looking. The ball went into the corner of the goal.

“The ball was behind me so I had to take a touch first and it was in the air so I just tried to hit it and it went in,” Komya said with a laugh. “It got the team going. We got confident.”

Tucson celebrates after Adrian Fong scores a goal (Javier Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Komya is in the first of his four attempts of earning a state championship while Fong and Emiliano and Tucson’s seven other seniors are making their last stand.

Fong’s goal at the 68-minute mark gave Tucson what seemed to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead with how its defense and Andraux were playing.

“We just need to play our game and press high and minimize the mistakes as much as possible,” said Fong, echoing the comments made by Hoauala to his team after the game.

No. 4-seeded Tucson (12-1-1) will play top seed San Luis (11-0-1) in the semifinals at Campo Verde on Tuesday at 6 p.m. San Luis outlasted Desert Vista 7-6 in penalty kicks to advance.

Hoauala believes his team has not reached its potential although potentially only two more matches remain to a state title.

“I think the kids need to start to believe more,” he said. “I think, in my opinion, we are underperforming. I think we could have finished this game in the first half (against Basha). I think we had some opportunities, but unfortunately, I think the kids still don’t believe that they are a contender.

“We will start believing.”


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon.

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