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FC Tucson Women remain undefeated; Desert Conference could come down to Wednesday

Luz Duarte and Bella Santavicca celebrate the goal from Duarte in the first half. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

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The FC Tucson Women ran away with a 3-0 victory over SC del Sol Friday night at the Kino North Stadium but the team is still not satisfied. The Women in Black are 5-0-1 on the year, with 16 points, but the championship of the Desert Conference of the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) is still not over. Technically.

FC Arizona beat Atomic City FC of Las Vegas 2-1 on a penalty kick in the 89th minute last night in the other big conference match but the team from Phoenix is 4-2-1 on the year with 13 points with only one match left and Tucson holds the head-to-head advantage over them with a win and a tie. In a curious move, FC Arizona pulled back and played for a 2-2 tie in the team’s last match with Tucson and it ultimately cost them a shot at the title. Even if Tucson somehow manages to drop the last two matches on the schedule, this team from Phoenix is out of the picture.

There’s another team in Phoenix. SC del Sol dropped to 2-2-1 on the year with 7 points. Theoretically, del Sol could win out and compete for the conference championship because that would mean a victory over Tucson Wednesday at the Reach 11 Complex in Phoenix. In order for that to work, however, Tucson would have to lose to El Paso Surf (0-6-1) on Saturday, July 10.

The shots on goal were similar Friday night with Tucson collecting 15 shots and SC del Sol 10 but Hope Hisey came up with six saves in win and Luz Duarte came through once again for the FC Tucson Women.

One of the most difficult aspects of all sports is to be in the right position at the right time to make things happen but it’s a hard thing to practice because the field of play is constantly shifting. Duarte always seems to be in the right position on the pitch and that takes a lot of experience and her skill was on full display in the 25th when the SC del Sol defense collapsed on Chloe Ziegler two yards from the goal but Duarte was there to kick the ball through a small opening between the legs of the last defender and the legs of the goalie who was positioning herself for Ziegler’s shot, not counting on a follow from Duarte.

Duarte scored again in the 55th to put Tucson up 2-0 and that called for a little “cha cha cha” dance from Duarte that got the crowd of almost 700 on their feet.

FC Tucson earned eight corners on the night but the one that mattered the most was a shot through a window by Bella Santavicca in the 71st. The offering from the corner went too wide and was easily headed out by the SC del Sol defenders but Santavicca was there from about 30 yards out for the crushing score.

According to head coach Kelly Pierce, the team watched “way more film than they’d like to” in preparation for SC del Sol and it paid off as the FC Tucson Women are the best team on conference on possessions but a second match is usually more difficult.

The match Wednesday night could be for it but the Women in Black still have a match set for El Paso on Saturday, July 10 to end the season because there will be no league playoffs this year due to travel restrictions and costs due to the pandemic. A conference title would be the second for the program since 2018.

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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 amoralesmytucson@yahoo.com

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