Goals were hard to come by last year. FC Tucson Women scored seven goals in all six matches and yet the team still managed to pull out a 3-2-1 campaign where one goal made the difference between a conference championship and missing the playoffs. But scoring was not a problem Friday night at the Kino North Stadium with FC Tucson beating El Paso Surf 7-1 to start off the 10th season of play in historical fashion.
FC Tucson defeated St. George FC 7-0 in the inaugural season in 2013 when current head coach Kelly Pierce was an All-Conference defender and that margin of victory still holds as the largest in franchise history but the 7-1 victory Friday night is next on the list followed by several 5-0 victories.
LARGEST MARGINS OF VICTORY
7-0 over St. George FC, 2013
7-1 over El Paso Surf, 2023
5-0 over St. George FC, 2013
5-0 over Xolos FC, 2015
5-0 over Players FC, 2019
4-0 over Pateadores, 2016
5-1 over Atomic City FC, 2021
Gone are legendary players, including Luz Duarte, who scored 12 goals to help lead the program to a 7-0-1 record in 2021, and All-Pac 12 goalie Hope Hisey, but it looks like Pierce has a solid group of leaders on the pitch with more coming in.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) June 3, 2023
Former Walden Grove and Pima standout Meredith Scott recorded a hat trick for FC Tucson and the New Mexico State freshman forced much of the action Friday night. Rice sophomore Naija Bruckner, who attended BASIS North in Tucson, scored three minutes in and it looked like the match was going to be won early at that point but FC Tucson was unable to hit the net on several chances which opened the door for a 1-1 tie in the 10th minute.
“She (Scott) was helpful last year, but this year, we see a tremendous change in her and her shift and her maturity,” Pierce said. “It’s surrounding her with the right players and just building off of her and being able to capitalize on many opportunities.”
That’s how the first half looked until Scott scored in stoppage time to send the team into the locker room with a slim 2-1 lead. Still, the shots kept coming but the net seemed elusive until former University of Arizona standout Jaden Bailey completed a flip throw into the box where former Mountain View and Arizona standout Laura Pimienta put it away from her defensive position. That goal opened up the scoring.
— Andy Morales (@AndyMorales8) June 3, 2023
Bruckner hit Scott one minute later and then Scott scored again less than a minute after her second goal. The team was up 5-1 in the 62nd minute but the blood was still in the water. Sydney Lenhart (Salpointe/Brandeis) took a shot off of the post to make it 6-1 in the 73rd and former Czech National Team member Anita Maryskova found New Mexico standout Fatso Williams in the 82nd for the 7-1 final.
“It was a great start, obviously getting that first win, especially like this,” Pierce said. “I think we have a lot of things to work on as well but overall pretty pleased with them, just have to work on a little bit of fitness but it was good to watch them enjoy themselves”
Unofficially, FC Tucson outshot El Paso 18-8 and Maddie Smith (Salpointe/Northern Colorado) came away with five saves.
FC Tucson will play next at Utah Royals FC- AZ (Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep Stadium) on Saturday, June 10. Royals FC lost 3-2 to SC del Sol Friday night.
Don’t miss out on a FREE special limited edition Star Wars match poster this Saturday presented by @VIBETucson 🚀⚽
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Artwork by: Local Artist Gustavo Rocha pic.twitter.com/1zwNYub5hi
— FC Tucson (@FCTucson) June 2, 2023
Named one of “Arizona’s Heart & Sol” by KOLD and Casino del Sol, Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the top high school reporter in 2014, he was awarded the Ray McNally Award in 2017 and a 2019 AZ Education News recognition. He was 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 and his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is a 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, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon Committee. He earned a Distinguished Service Award from Amphitheater and he was recognized by City Councilman Richard Fimbres. Contact Andy Morales at firstname.lastname@example.org