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Tacoma Stars beat Dallas Sidekicks 4-3

Duncan McCormick gets the game winning goal to give the Stars their 5th win of the season

Raphael Cox and Duncan McCormick work against a Sidekicks defender
Raphael Cox and Duncan McCormick work against a Sidekicks defender
Wilson Tsoi/Tacoma Stars

The Tacoma Stars needed a win on Friday night to reclaim first place in the MASL Pacific Division. They got it the same way they've earned most of their wins this season: with solid team defense and timely goals.

Coming into the game, Tacoma would have been forgiven for underestimating the 0-3 Dallas Sidekicks. Dallas already had losses against Missouri, Las Vegas, and Syracuse, while Tacoma was coming off of its first loss of the season to Soles de Sonora 2 weeks ago. The Stars were a bit surprised at how good Dallas was to start the game.

The first half featured quite a bit of physical play that the referees mostly allowed, but there wasn't much scoring. That wasn't due to a lack of chances. Neither side was able to find the finishing touch for most of the first half until Dallas defender Mike Jones scored the first goal of the game on a counter that gave him a one on one opportunity against Stars goalkeeper Danny Waltman with 4 minutes remaining in the first half. Dallas took the 1-0 lead into halftime.

The Stars came out of halftime with plenty of focus and were able to find a good attacking rhythm. This led to 2 goals from defender Adam West (a former USL Sounder), one just 83 seconds into the second half and another one about 7 minutes later to give the Stars a 2-1 lead.

That lead didn't last long. Just 20 seconds after West completed his brace and gave Tacoma the lead, Dallas midfielder Cameron Brown equalized with a shot that got past Waltman that a Tacoma defender couldn't quite get to in time to clear it off the line.

Tacoma was able to re-take the lead less than 30 seconds after Brown's equalizer as Stars forward Tyrone Hall chased after a ball that was sent in along the perimeter wall. A Sidekicks defender had position and attempted to allow the ball to get to his goalkeeper so he could pick it up. Hall was able to read this and was able to fight for position between the defender and the goalkeeper, eventually getting a touch on the ball and slotting it home to put Tacoma ahead 3-2 with 5:18 left in the third quarter.

With less than 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter, Hall helped the Stars find another goal with a pass that threaded the needle between the goalkeeper and defender that left midfielder Duncan McCormack all alone in front of an empty net. He finished the chance to put the Stars ahead 4-2 going into the 4th quarter.

The final 9 minutes of the game were too close for comfort for Stars fans after Brown completed his Brace to pull Dallas back to within one goal. Tacoma led 4-3 with 9:13 left in the game.

Despite his brace, Brown gave the Stars a golden opportunity to put the game away when he picked up a blue card for a hard foul against the boards on McCormick. This gave Tacoma a 2 minute power play with 4:51 left in the game. Although Joey Gjertsen and Jamael Cox came inches away from converting on the power play, the Stars came away empty handed.

This was followed by a late challenge just outside of the box by Waltman, who was blue carded for the tackle. Dallas was awarded a 2 minute power play with 2:39 left in the game. Tacoma's team defending, arguably the strength of the team, was put to the test by the late power play. They worked together well, stepping into space at the right time to keep Dallas from having any big chances. They eventually killed the power play and were able to hold on for the final 39 seconds of the game at full strength to get the win.

With the win, the Stars move to 5-1 on the season, putting them 0.5 games ahead of Sonora in first place in the Pacific Division. Dallas drops to 0-4 and remains in last place in the division. Tacoma also has a 2 game lead over third place Ontario and a 2.5 game lead over fourth place San Diego. They will face Dallas again at the ShoWare Center on Sunday at 3:05 PM. The club announced during the game that season tickets for the remainder of the season (6 home games left on the schedule) start at $60.

The Stars reserves play their Western Indoor Soccer League (WISL) home opener Saturday night at 7:30 against Bellingham United, who they beat for the league title last season. That game will be played at the Tacoma Soccer Center.

Duncan McCormick

They came out a lot better than we thought they were going to. They possessed the ball really well. They tried to tire us out in the first half. We kept our heads and managed them well and held them to one goal. Then they started to wear off.

We had a great halftime pick me up. Darren [Sawatzky] got us going. He said, "Hey guys, we're miles ahead of this team. We just have to keep our heads, stick to the game plan, not do anything stupid, and we'll come out on top." That's exactly what we did.

In the second half, we came out flying. We scored 4 goals in the third quarter. Everyone was on the same page. We were scoring good team goals. It was good to see the team clicking, already 5 games into the season. It helps us look good for the long term. We feel like we're going to be a good team for the whole season.

Adam West

When we started the game, it was 0-0 for the whole first quarter, even the first half. We had tons of chances. We just couldn't put it away. I think what we've been relying on is solid defense. The fact that we were able to keep it at zero even when we weren't finishing is huge. Once we find our groove as the season goes along, I think we're going to start finishing. If we can create separation in the games, we won't have to defend for the last 30 seconds with our lives.

I'm more excited about the win than scoring 2 goals or the defensive performance. The 2 goals, that just comes with other people's work rate. In indoor, every chance you get is because somebody dug it out or created the space for you. Eventually, you'll find the back of the net.

The penalty kill feels better than a goal does. To do something like that feels pretty good.

The Stars also introduced a new mascot, because of course they did. Meet Dancin' Abraham Lincoln:

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