FC Tucson continued their recent dominance in USL League One play last night, beating Fort Lauderdale CF by a score of 3-0 on Saturday night at Kino North Stadium.
The Men In Black (8-8-5, 29 points) are 4-0-1 in their last five matches and they are now positioned at No. 4 in the standings. The top six teams qualify for the postseason. The regular season ends October 31.
Fort Lauderdale CF (7-10-5) is in seventh place with 26 points.
FC Tucson wasted no time getting on offense Saturday night, starting fast and shooting multiple times at the net. Eventually, it was Luca Mastrantonio who was able to net the first goal.
The 24-year-old defender’s first goal of his career was a header perfectly set up by a corner kick from Charlie Dennis.
Finding the net was a big moment for Mastrantonio, but he was more happy with his play on defense and maintaining the team’s seventh shutout of the season.
“It was honestly more satisfying for me to have a block at the end rather than the goal,” he said. “For me as a defender, I take more pride in defending. Keeping the clean sheet is my top priority.”
The match remained competitive on both sides of the ball from that point on. Play started to get chippy towards the middle of the second half.
Both teams were given at least one yellow card, one going to midfielder Mohamed Kone in the 68th minute and two to Fort Lauderdale CF’s George Acosta and Shaan Hundal around the 70th minute.
“There’s gonna be moments where you’re gonna suffer in games,” FC Tucson coach Jon Pearlman said. “It’s gonna be hard to be dominating in all 90 minutes. You have to stay focused and stay compact as a team.”
Deri Corfe earned a hard-earned brace (two goals in one game) for the Men In Black.
His first goal came at the 73rd minute. Kone set Corfe up nicely with a pass from his knees across the goal. Once the ball was in position, all Corfe had to do was kick it into the webs.
His second came just 30 seconds before the end of stoppage time. Manuel Ferriol this time assisted him with another beautiful pass across the goal.
“Its never a bad day to get a brace” says the Englishman. “I love scoring goals, so it was a good day at the office.”
Corfe also credited his teammates at finding him at the right times to help him out.
“I felt like we were moving the ball really well, a nice one-two touch” he said. “We’ve got a lot of light and were able to find a pass very easy, so for me its just about being on my toes and anticipating the ball.”
Wallis “The Wall” Lapsley also had a productive night at the net, saving three shots for his team, including a highlight reel stop in the 24th minute that he barely made with the tips of his fingers.
Lapsley now has 57 saves on the season, putting him at third in the USL League One.
FC Tucson faces the Greenville Triumph SC (8-7-6, 30 points) on Saturday in South Carolina. Greenville is one spot ahead of the Men in Black in the standings. If FC Tucson wins, it will climb to third in the standings.
There are just seven matches remaining on the schedule, so points and goal differential is important — something that Corfe acknowledged.
“I think its always important to score as many goals as possible as a team, cause you never know how important that’s gonna be,” he said. “I think goal differential is gonna be a major key in pushing for playoffs.”
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Nathaniel Martinez is an aspiring sports journalist who is a Sahuaro High School graduate and Pima Community College student. He has written for the Aztec Press at Pima. While at Sahuaro, he played football for longtime coach Scott McKee and he wrestled.