KENT, WA - On Saturday, January 7th the Tacoma Stars defeated Atletico Baja of Tijuana, Mexico by a Score line of 6-4 at the ShoWare Center.
Electrified and inspired to begin their first match of 2017, the Stars scored just SEVEN seconds into the match thanks to the brilliant talent of Stars forward (and team leader in points) Dan Antoniuk off a quickfire assist from midfielder Raphael Cox who immediately stole the ball of the opening kick.
If that wasn’t enough to energize the Stars faithful, only a mere twenty-eight seconds later, the Stars once again found the back of the net: this time thanks to forward Vince McCluskey.
As the first quarter rolled on, Tacoma continued there onslaught with a third goal from midfielder Derek Johnson off of an assist from midfielder Mike Ramos.
Midfielder Joseph Cairel would make the score 4-0 as the teams headed into the first intermission.
Early in the second stanza, Antoniuk bagged his second of the game: this time unassisted. With Atletico still scoreless, Stars forward Alex Megson would conclude the teams scoring for the night after nabbing a goal of his own with 9:30 remaining in the first half.
With a substantial 6-0 lead in hand Tacoma eased off the gas shifting their mindset to defense and sharing minutes among their second and third string; subsequently allowing Atletico to notch their first tally of the contest just before the halftime break.
After the interval it was Atletico Baja in charge as they notched the only goal of the third quarter off a power play. Although Atletico continuously pulled their goalie to give them the man advantage, Tacoma failed to find pay dirt off several counter-attacks on the empty net.
In the final fifteen, Atletico found the net twice thanks to the extra attacker, and despite many chances to score in the waning minutes, neither side could find netting as the score was settled at 6-4 in favor of the home-side.
Looking back upon the match, fans of both Tacoma and Baja were disappointed by the absence of Baja forward—and Mexican Women’s National team member—Carolina Jaramillo who was unable to travel due to visa complications.
Post-game her teammates expressed how exciting is to play with such a talented footballer in a top level league “traditionally dominated by men.”
“She holds her own, plays hard and competes every day.” said one player. However, not all reactions to Jaramillo’s presence have been positive, but her undeniable skill has a knack for silencing critics.
Tacoma now looks forward to facing the Ceder Rapids Rampage (8-3) on Friday, January 13th at 7:35 pm in Kent.
The Rampage have been dominant in Eastern Conference play and will most definitely keep the Stars busy as both squads look to move up in the standings.
“No game in the MASL is easy,” stated Stars head coach Darren Sawatzky after the win, “this is looking to be a great match-up.” If the Stars wish to improve on their current second-place standing in Pacific Division play they will have to exhibit rock-solid defense against an offensive minded Cedar Rapids squad.
When looking at the Cedar Rapids roster, one name that stands out (especially to long-time MLS fans) will be that of Jamar Beasley, older brother to the Houston Dynamo’s DeMarcus Beasley.
In the late nineties, Jamar was a highly touted youth product that garnered him much attention and (at the time) made him the youngest player to ever sign a MLS contract (age 18).
Following five years in MLS with the New England Revolution and Chicago Fire, things didn’t quite click for Jamar and he decided to take his talents to the indoor game debuting for Kansas City in 2003. With his successful indoor career now spanning over a decade, his presence and experience will no doubt continue to amplify the efforts of the Rampage, but the Stars will be ready for the challenge.