Tacoma Stars Sweep Phoenix in PASL Home Opener Weekend Matches
The Tacoma Stars opened its Professional Arena Soccer League home campaign this past weekend with two victories over the Phoenix Monsoon, a 9-5 win on Saturday night followed by a 13-5 victory Sunday afternoon
On Saturday, Raphael Cox, Viet Nguyen, and Micah Wenzel scored two goals apiece and Mark Lee added two assists as Tacoma (2-2) won its first match of the PASL season. Phoenix jumped out to a 2-1 lead at the end of the first quarter, but quick goals from Cam Vickers and Nguyen to start the second quarter pulled the Stars ahead. Cox added a short-handed goal later in the quarter to leave the score 4-2 at halftime.
"We haven't started games well and have trailed at the end of the first quarter in every one of our games, including the exhibition in Bellingham," said Stars Head Coach and General Manager Todd Stauber. "We did well to recover and get it right, but we're putting ourselves in a position to have to chase the game and it's something we have to address."
The second half started with a Phoenix goal to pull the Monsoon to 4-3, but three consecutive Tacoma goals pushed the lead to 7-3. Phoenix got it back to 7-5 on a power play goal to open the fourth quarter, but Wenzel's second goal of the night with 2:33 left put it out of reach.
"We saw some things that we need to fix, but it's a really good feeling to get this first win," said Stauber. "We are just focused on improving and getting better every time we step on the field, and if we keep that focus, the results will fall into place."
Sunday afternoon Stauber injected Dayo Oyetuga into the Tacoma lineup and he responded with a hat trick plus one assist in his first ever PASL match as the Stars routed the visiting Monsoon 13-5.
"Target play has been a focus for us and today Dayo had a great game for us up there," said Stauber. "He's a big guy and an easy target to play into, and he combined well with the midfield today. I'm hoping he can build on the performance because it makes it a lot easier to play our style when we have a target playing that well.
The Stars also had special performances out of leading scorer Adam Nowland, who turned in a four-goal, two-assist performance, and Ian Weinberg, who had two goals and three assists.
"Adam showed his class today, "said Stauber. "Here's a guy that played in the English Premier League, yet he's the hardest working guy on the field. His six points were impressive, but his defending was just as good. He led us in blocks and was everywhere. He sets such a good example for the rest of our guys with his work rate. It's always a good thing as a coach when your most talented player matches his ability with a great work ethic."
While special teams have been an issue for Tacoma, the Stars went 3 for 5 on the power play over the weekend, while scoring two shorthanded goals.
"Power play and set pieces were much better this weekend, but we still have some work to do there," said Stauber. "I'm very happy with our man down team though. Raf, Cam, and Micah are defending well in that set, but all three of them can transition so quick it makes us very dangerous."
The victories pull Tacoma into 3rd place in the Western Division behind San Diego and Turlock. The Stars get two chances to climb into 2nd place this coming weekend when they host Turlock on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.
A reminder that admission is free at Starfire and a beer garden is featured on the third floor of the arena with a great view of the field. Roger Levesque of the Seattle Sounders FC joins the Stars as their honorary guest for Saturday nights match.
Professional Arena Soccer League Stories from December 5, 2011
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