The FC Tucson Women beat Atomic City FC 2-1 Friday night at Kino Stadium to improve to 4-0-1 in the Desert Conference of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL). The team from Las Vegas fell to 3-2 on the year with both losses coming to Tucson. With 12 points, plus the head-to-head tiebreaker over Las Vegas, Tucson is in complete control of their own destiny the rest of the way.
There will be no playoffs in the WPSL this year so the race is for the Desert Conference championship and Tucson has three matches left with two being against SC del Sol of Phoenix (1-1-1) and the other at El Paso Surf (0-1-5). Las Vegas only has two matches left and FC Arizona has three but one of those is against Las Vegas. That means Tucson could win the conference with one more victory but two would clinch the championship. FC Tucson Women won the Pac South Conference championship in 2018 and the program is playing for its second title in program history dating back to 2013 when current head coach Kelly Pierce earned First Team All-West honors as a defender on that team.
Her standout play as a defender is evident in her coaching but her programs also have the ability to score at the other end especially with former Catalina, Pueblo and Mexican National team member Luz Duarte on the point. Duarte put FC Tucson up 1-0 on Las Vegas on a rebound in the 24th and her score off a corner from Bella Santavicca in the 55th was all the team needed to overcome a goal from Las Vegas in the 63rd.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) June 26, 2021
The loss of Brianna Barreiro to injury caused a void on the pitch but Pierce inserted players such as Kourtney Kutscher and former Arizona player Sabrina Enciso with success and Santavicca has seen increased playing time especially with forwards Hannah Leitner and Erin Craig unavailable Friday night. At this point, the program is running like a machine with highly skilled players at Pierce’s side ready to step up and a major portion of those athletes have Tucson ties including current and former University of Arizona standouts such as Jaden Bailey.
Bailey was a two-time Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year at Gilbert Highland before playing for the Wildcats and she is joined by former Arizona players Laura Pimienta, Priscilla Pimienta, Enciso and current Arizona keeper Hope Hisey. Current Arizona standout Quincy Bonds is playing for Las Vegas.
The schedule looks favorable the rest of the way but there is always cause for worry and Pierce rightfully treats each match as a major hurdle along the way so it’s certain the squad will be prepared for SC del Sol next Friday night regardless of records. It will be the last home match of the season for FC Tucson Women and it could also be cause for celebration.
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