Reid Hukari scores two goals; FC Tucson to finish second in the division.
Tucson, AZ (Wednesday, July 11, 2012) — For FC Tucson Head Coach Rick Schantz, the final weekend of the season was more about resting key players who were banged up instead of playing his usual starting XI. But FC Tucson’s 4-2 win over the Southern California Seahorses proved that even when Schantz starts the players who don’t get as many minutes, the team can still be lethal.
“It’s always a really neat thing as a coach when you stumble on a great combination,” Schantz said.
One of those oft-used players was Reid Hukari, who was making just this third appearance of the season (Hukari joined the team midway through the year). Playing as a defensive center midfielder, Hukari did more than defend.
Just two minutes into the game Hukari got the ball near the top right corner of the box and struck a low, line drive shot at the far post and into the back of the net for the quickest goal in FC Tucson history.
Then in the 31st minute, with FC Tucson up 2-1, Hukari received the ball about 10 yards outside of the top of the 18-yard box and fired a brilliant strike that zipped passed the diving goalkeeper and into the to right corner of the net.
“It’s easy when you have players around you that are giving you 15 yards of space to play in,” Hukari said. “Every time I’d get the ball you had people moving around so it gave me a lot of time on the ball and a lot of time to make a decision.”
Schantz said that the team can be very dynamic when its patient with the ball. For most of the night FC Tucson looked Barcelona-esque with its short, quick passes and long possession. The ball movement created the space that allowed for good scoring opportunities.
In the 6th minute, Reid Schmitt got the ball in some space and proved how deadly he can be when he out-maneuvered a defender by cutting inside to his left before putting a left-footed strike past the goalkeeper.
In the 33rd minute, FC Tucson’s passing lead to a Donny Toia breakaway, which he took advantage of and slipped his shot between the goalkeeper’s legs to effectively put the game away at 4-1.
“(This game) was definitely a boost,” Hukari said. “It’s really about the team chemistry right now and that’s coming together for these last couple of games. “
Despite the win, FC Tucson can no longer contend for the division title. Ventura County won its game against Pali Blues 5-3, clinching the Southwest Division title. But Schantz wasn’t concerned and said he didn’t want to pressure his team by telling them they had to win to have a shot at a title.
“I said we’re not here for that,” Schantz said. “We’re here to play. And we joked about it at halftime. Maybe we should just not care what happens in the playoffs if the guys will play that well. It was beautiful soccer.”
FC Tucson’s final game of the PDL regular season is Friday, July 13 at 8 p.m., against OC Blue Star.
‘2: FC Tucson-Reid Huakri
‘6: FC Tucson-Reid Schmitt
‘9: SoCal Seahorses-Sean Siemens
’31: FC Tucson-Reid Hukari
’33: FC Tucson-Donny Toia
’83: SoCal Seahorses-Jordan Chrzan