This past weekend's road trip was the first real test of the season for the Tacoma Stars to see how well the team could cope without its strong home crowd and team of mascots supporting them, in addition to the fixture congestion associated with playing 3 games in 3 days. The Stars passed that test with flying colors, winning all 3 games to bring their record to 4-0 and becoming the quickest team to win 4 games in the MASL this season.
Sunday: Tacoma Stars 4, Sacramento Surge 3
On Sunday afternoon in Sacramento, the Tacoma Stars wrapped up their first road trip with their third win in as many days. Unlike the previous 3 wins this season, this one came down to the final minute of play. After Tacoma had built a 3-0 lead in the first 33 minutes of the game, behind goals from Derek Johnson, Michael Ramos, and Trevor Jensen, the Sacramento Surge rallied to even the score with 2 goals in the final minute of the third quarter and the equalizer in the third minute of the fourth quarter.
It looked like the game was destined for overtime until Jamael Cox scored the winning goal for Tacoma with under 4 minutes remaining in the game. Strong team defense has been the story early in the season, and it was no different on Sunday, as the Stars had to kill a Sacramento power play over the final 84 seconds, due to a blue card issued for a Joseph Cairel charging foul.
Saturday: Tacoma Stars 9, Sacramento Surge 5
The previous match between Tacoma and Sacramento took place on Saturday evening. This was a much higher scoring game, with Tacoma building a 4-1 lead at halftime, thanks to 2 goals from Dan Antoniuk and goals from Adam West and Derek Johnson. Joey Gjertsen provided 3 assists in the first half.
Sacramento answered with 2 goals in the 6th minute of the third quarter to bring them within one goal of the Stars. Less than 5 minutes later, Derek Johnson got his second goal of the night and Jamael Cox gave Tacoma a 6-3 lead with just 6 seconds left in the third quarter with his goal on a power play.
Although the Surge were able to cut Tacoma's lead to 6-4 with 11:32 left in the game, they would never get closer. Cox added his second goal with 8:42 remaining. Jamar Beasley added another goal 6 minutes later to give Tacoma an 8-4 lead, putting the game out of reach. A minute later Sacramento narrowed the lead to 8-5 before Derek Johnson put the exclamation point on the win with his hat trick goal, assisted by Duncan McCormick.
Friday: Tacoma Stars 7, Turlock Express 2
On the first game of the road trip, Tacoma faced the only team in beat in the MASL last season after replacing the Seattle Impact in January. The Stars jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the first quarter, thanks to goals from Dan Antoniuk and Joey Gjertsen. Turlock managed to cut the lead to 2-1 at halftime, thanks to a goal in the second quarter from Norman Levesque. The teams were separated by only one goal until Adam West scored in the final minute of the third quarter to put Tacoma up 3-1. Derek Johnson added another goal 45 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it 4-1. Duncan McCormick gave Tacoma a 4 goal lead with his goal with 10:31 left in the game. Turlock responded immediately with its final goal of the game before Joey Gjertsen and Corey Keitz scored in consecutive minutes to put the game away. Turlock was frustrated all night by Tacoma's team defense and goalkeeper Danny Waltman's 30 saves.
Stats and Notes
- Through 4 games, the Stars have managed to score at least one goal in 14 of 16 quarters while only allowing goals to be scored against them in 8 quarters of play.
- There have been 9 different goal scorers.
- Although Sounders Academy alum Jamael Cox only has 2 goals, both of them wound up being game winning goals on consecutive nights against Sacramento.
- Antoniuk is fourth in the league in scoring with 6 goals this season. Johnson is tied for fifth with 5 goals.
- Johnson and Gjertsen are tied for sixth in the league in assists, with 3 apiece.
- Tacoma currently holds the best record in the league at 4-0. Behind them are the Missouri Comets at 3-0 and the Baltimore Blast at 2-0.
- S2 fans will be interested to know that McCormick has 1 goal and 2 assists through 4 games. Michael Ramos, who made one appearance with S2 while on loan from Kitsap Pumas, has 1 goal and 1 assist.
Next up for the Stars is Soles de Sonora on Friday night at ShoWare Center at 7:35 PM. Tickets start at $10 and the team is running a $2 beer night promotion for this game. The Stars currently hold a 2 game lead over Soles de Sonoroa for the lead in the Pacific Division. This game is an opportunity for Tacoma to start creating some separation between themselves and the rest of the division.