FC Tucson Women clinch WPSL Desert Conference Championship

(Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)


PHOENIX – The FC Tucson Women beat SC del Sol 3-0 Wednesday night at the Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix to clinch the second conference championship for the program over the last three years of competition. Former head coach Amy Garelick led the team to the Pac South championship in 2018, with current head coach Kelly Pierce by her side, and Pierce used some of her own magic to lead her 2021 squad to Desert Conference title this summer.

Pierce was one of the original players in the inaugural 2013 season along with current players Priscilla and Laura Pimienta and then Brianna Barreiro joined the program in 2014. That foundation proved to be a solid one and it became the cornerstone of a program that demands strong leadership on the pitch.

“Our chemistry is important and, as you know, vocal leadership is something I’m very passionate about,” Pierce said. “We have that with our experienced players and players that came in from other programs and they respond as a team to that leadership.”

Pierce took the reins when Garelick retired after that 2018 season and the program continued on an upward swing until the 2020 season was cancelled by the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL) due to the pandemic and the effects of that cancellation lingered this summer with the decision by the WPSL to cancel a league playoff due to continued travel restrictions and the rising costs associated with travel. Instead, the WPSL will recognize each of the conference champions this summer.

Haley Harris at far right scored the winning goal. (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson)

The team is loaded with experience but it also has a very important sprinkling of new talent such as former Cienega standout Haley Harris. Harris graduated from high school in 2020 and she took her Southern Arizona Player of the Year honor to Embry Riddle where she is studying Global Securities and Intelligence and she scored what turned out to be the winning goal in the third minute to put the Women in Black up 1-0 Wednesday night.

If the WPSL has an All-Star team this year then Luz Duarte would have to be on that short list. Duarte is a dribbler and a scorer and she scored two more times Wednesday night. She scored from 20 yards out in the in the 14th and from about 30 yards out in the 48th. Both goals came after SC del Sol believed they had stopped a Tucson rush but they never accounted for Duarte. Her second goal came complete with some trickery with the ball to further confuse the Phoenix defense.

FC Tucson Women goalie Hope Hisey came through with three saves on eight shots from Phoenix and Tucson took 11 shots with nine being on target.

“When I saw our potential I told every player that we were going to do this the right way,” Pierce added. “Be in condition. Be committed. I knew we would be successful.”

Tucson improved to 6-0-1 on the year with 19 points and SC del Sol fell to 2-3-1 and 7 points. Had there been a playoff this summer, Tucson would be fighting for the top seed from the West Region especially with three more points out there to be had with a match scheduled at El Paso on Saturday, July 10 at noon. The expansion team is currently 0-6-1 on the year but one would have to believe Pierce is already focused on that match as much as she was with the first match of the year.


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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