The Tacoma Stars (2-1) defeated the Ontario Fury (1-2) in a sizzling MASL matchup November 12 at the ShoWare Center.
Despite stout defense on both sides throughout the first quarter, Ontario eventually broke through the Stars line with the only goal of the interval.
After two more goals from Ontario to open the second quarter, the Stars had their backs against the boards. But a lifeline was found in the form of Stars midfielder Mike Ramos, who notched his third goal of the campaign.
With the score now 3-1 in favor of Ontario, the Stars and their fans erupted in disgust as a would-be goal by Joseph "The Jet" Cairel was waved off by the official due to an improperly placed ball on the restart. Acting head coach Dick McCormick shared his thoughts with the referee and received a yellow card in the process.
Channeling the intensity of the Stars faithful and his head coach, Derek "El Tigre" Johnson scored a beautiful goal off the free kick from Dan Antoniuk. After a blue card was issued against Ontario and a subsequent yellow card for dissent was tacked on, the clubs would go into the locker rooms with the Stars trailing 3-2 at the end of the first half.
Despite killing the powerplay to start the third quarter, Tacoma brought it level after a second goal from El Tigre. However, the tie was short lived, as twelve seconds later Ontario stole their fourth goal.
Tacoma answered back with two more goals in the third quarter thanks to defender Evan McNeley (his first of the season), and forward Dan Antoniuk.
Early in the fourth quarter, The Jet would again put a goal into the net, and this time there was no disputing it. Ontario notched a powerplay goal thanks to a two-minute boarding penalty against Stars forward Alex Megson, bringing the score to 6-5 Stars.
In the waning minutes, Ontario pulled their goalie to gain an extra attacker, but Tacoma put the game away thanks to two empty net strikes from Mike Ramos and Stars captain Joey Gjertsen.
With their 8-5 win in the books, Tacoma moves to second place in the MASL Pacific division. The Stars next match will be at 5:35 PM on Friday, November 18 against the Dallas Sidekicks (2-3) for the first of a four-game road trip. The Stars will have to recover quickly because they face the St. Louis Ambush the following night, November 19.
Tacoma fans and players alike will be excited to hear that head coach Darren Sawatzky will once again be travelling with the Stars after returning from coaching the Guam international team in the group stage of the East Asian Football Federation Cup. The Stars will need his expertise on the bench to guide them through these tough road tests.
The Stars will return to the friendly confines of the ShoWare Center Saturday, December 10 for a 6:05 PM kickoff with the Ontario Fury, and if it is anything like their last matchup, we are looking at the beginnings of a great MASL rivalry.