Tucson, AZ — In FC Tucson’s first game against a non-professional team, Arizona Western College, Head Coach Rick Schantz knew his team would be the better squad. And FC Tucson was in a 5-0 win.
But what he wanted to learn was if FC Tucson would play like it.
“I explained to the guys to play at the next level and to be professional,” Schantz said. “These are the games that you don’t give up a goal, you don’t fall asleep mentally and I thought they answered the bell. They did a great job.”
FC Tucson didn’t waste time pressing the Matador defense: in the 7th minute Donny Toia had the day’s first scoring opportunity. Toia picked up the ball at midfield and made a long run toward the box, splitting two defenders before pushing his shot wide to the right.
Moments later, still in the 7th minute, Reid Schmidt saw an opportunity from a few yards outside of the box and fired a shot that also missed to the right.
Then in the 8th minute Kevin King nearly nailed a free kick from about 10 yards outside the right corner of the box. AWC’s Oscar Hernandez punched the ball away before it found the back right corner of the net.
“You don’t put your head down,” said starting Donny Toia of the early misses. “If you put your head down everything is going to slow down and that’s not what we wanted. We wanted to keep everything fast-paced and keep pressuring them and make them make mistakes.”
FC Tucson finally broke through in the 15th minute when Phillipe Garre sent a cross into the box and found the head of Kevin King. Then in the 23rd minute King sent his own cross into the box, forced the Matador defense to scramble.
In the ensuing madness, the ball popped loose and found the foot of Toia, who sent it home to give FC Tucson a 2-0 lead.
“It came across, I took a touch and I saw a guy coming up behind me so I just kicked it, hoping it was going to go in and have enough power and it did,” Toia said.
The second half was more of the same for FC Tucson, who dominated possession for most of the game. But with a different, more experienced lineup subbed in, Schantz believed the team was more patient in the second half.
“We talked (at halftime) about keeping it simple and not making the game difficult,” Schantz said. “I thought in the second half … they understood to keep the ball and spread the opponent.”
FC Tucson: Ramon Acosta; Reid Schmidt, Kareem Smith, Edgar Reyna, Taylor Bowlin; Phillipe Garre, Donny Toia, Sergio Iniquez; Milos Dragic, Kevin King; Travis Sanchez
Arizona Western College: Oscar Hernandez; Sheriff Showunmi, Jose Diaz, Javier Bon, Effrain Mandujano; Vini Enriquez, Vitalis Atemafac, Admir Balicevac, Kofi Owusu-Ansah; Donal Landrum, Jose Medina.
15’ FC Tucson-Kevin King (Phillipe Garre)
23’ FC Tucson-Donny Toia
62’ FC Tucson-Milos Dragic
70’ FC Tucson-Travis Sanchez
74’ FC Tucson-Nick Auditore
’49 Yellow (Donny Toia and Sheriff Showunmi)
’84 Yellow (Javier Bon)
Assistant Referee-Jeremy Reilly
Assistant Referee-Robert Siqueiros
Photos by Joshua Pearson