The shots kept coming and coming. It was a furious pace that tested the defense of the El Paso Surf but it also tested the endurance of the FC Tucson Women attack. In the end, the “Women in Black” tallied 21 shots in the 2-1 victory over the Desert Conference expansion club with over a dozen of those attempts coming in the first 30 minutes of the match.
Former Catalina and Pueblo standout, and Mexican National Team member, Luz Duarte broke through in the 22nd minute on an assist from former University of Arizona standout Jaden Bailey and the team was on its way. Bailey was a two-time Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year recipient while leading Gilbert Highland to a state championship and she is also known for her lengthy and accurate flip throw-ins when called upon.
El Paso was set to start competition in the Women’s Premier Soccer League last year but the pandemic delayed the program’s entrance into the WPSL this summer and team lost to FC Arizona out of Phoenix 4-0 on May 29 and the Surf followed that up with a 2-2 tie with SC del Sol of Phoenix on the following day.
The game-speed experience from last weekend seemingly gave the Surf an advantage over the FC Tucson Women Friday night with the local club only having a few practices with a roster that was only recently solidified under the reigning Division Coach of the Year Kelly Pierce but that roster is stacked with experience and talent. Experience and talent cannot overcome the fatigue that sets in after the kind of attack the team was mounting so the offense pulled back and started playing a controlled passing game anchored by a strong defense.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) June 5, 2021
“I’m very happy with the win,” Pierce said. “We only had two weeks of practice but I saw we had great command and control early on and we worked on passing and moving the ball around. We also did a great job of passing up to Luz where she wreaked havoc. But, there was some fatigue and that’s expected especially since some of the players haven’t really played for a while.”
Danica Guzman came up with nine saves against that attack and the El Paso keeper played remarkably well conspiring her age (15) and the level of competition coming at her with former University of Montana and Swedish Division I professional Erin Craig joining Duarte and Bailey up front with former UTEP standout Bri Barreiro holding the middle together along with former Salpointe standouts Kate Connelly and Paloma Teran. Former Rincon/UHS, and current All-WAC standout with New Mexico State, forward Hannah Leitner also joined in.
Duarte scored again in the 53rd minute on an assist from Craig to put FC Women up 2-0 but Chrystal Martinez cut that lead in half on a penalty kick in the 87th minute. The FC Tucson Women turned to their defense down the stretch to preserve the opening-day victory with four minutes of stoppage time added. Former Mountain View and Arizona defenders Laura and Priscilla Pimienta joined former NAU and English Premier Women’s League defender Savannah Berry and former Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year Micaela Hornstein on defense. Salpointe junior Maddie Smith held down the keeper spot.
The FC Tucson Women will host FC Arizona on Wednesday, June 9 before heading out to Las Vegas to take on the other expansion program, Atomic City FC, on Sunday, June 13.
Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a 2019 AZ Education News award winner and he has been a youth, high school and college coach for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about high school beach volleyball and high school girls wrestling. His own children have won multiple state high school championships and were named to all-state teams. Competing in hockey, basketball, baseball and track & field in high school, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member of the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing the top football player in Arizona, and he was named a Local Hero by the Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named an Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019 and he is a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org