clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Stars Close in on Playoff Spot

A strong second half saw the Tacoma Stars move one win back of Ontario

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The Tacoma Stars took on the Ontario Fury on January 5th at Showare Arena. Both teams came in fighting for the second playoff spot in the Pacific Division, trailing the undefeated San Diego Sockers.

Prior to the match, the Stars made a big move, bringing in Nick Perera from the Syracuse Silver Knights via trade for future considerations. Perera brings a ton of indoor experience and a proven goal-scoring track record and immediately showed his quality, as the Stars used him throughout the game. As analyzed by head coach Darren Sawatsky said, “Nick is a complete indoor player. He creates chances and takes pressure off of other guys on the field.”

After an early Ontario goal by Maicon De Abreau, Parera responded, opening his Stars account. The goal was Perera’s fifth on the season and assisted by Jamael Cox. The first quarter ended tied at one, but with Ontario on a power play after Philip Lund’s blue card.

The penalty proved costly, as Ontario was able to convert. The game threatened to get out of hand when Ontario’s Israel Sesay scored another to take a 3-1 lead. After the two Ontario Fury goals, however, the Stars were put back on track with a Chase Hanson strike. This is Hanson’s fourth goal of the campaign, and was assisted by Troy Petersen.

The Tacoma Stars were given a power play of their own when De Abreau elbowed Philip Lund in the head. Raphael Cox received a cross from Perera and put it in the back of the net to tie the game once again, this time at three. Not to be outdone by his brother, Jamael Cox rounded out the first half scoring, thanks to Alain Matingou finding Jamael free in space near the goal. This goal was Jamael’s fourth of the season and gave the Stars their first lead of the day. The Stars went into halftime leading 4-3 and looking the better of the two squads.

Tacoma’s dominance became apparent over the course of the third quarter. The Stars bashed the Fury with five goals in the frame while conceding none. Both Cox brothers would find net with Jamael scoring first. After a Fury foul, Jamael scored from distance on the ensuing free kick. Shortly thereafter, Raphael decided to add to any twin jokes by scoring his second of the night as well.

An Ontario penalty for too many men on the field gave the Stars another power play. This would benefit Perera, as a cross would be turned in by the Ontario defense for an own goal. Due to indoor rules, Perea was credited with his second goal of the night and sixth on the season. Troy Peterson and Joey Gjertsen also added themselves to the stat sheet, giving the Tacoma Stars a seemingly insurmountable 9-3 lead after the third quarter.

At the beginning of the fourth stanza, Ontario aggressively went into desperation mode by pulling their goalie and playing with a sixth man. This seemed to daze the Stars, allowing Ontario to strike for three quick goals, making the game a bit closer than what the Stars and their fans would like.

Tacoma would finally stop the flow with a counter-attacking strike by Alain Matingou. The result was then cemented by a lengthy chip shot by Philip Lund, covering almost three quarters of the field and resulting in a “bow and arrow” celebration on the center spot.

It is no surprise that, with the addition of Nick Perera, the offense of the Stars improved, cracking the ten goal mark for the first time this season. Perera brings talent in front of net and great hold up play. In addition, his talent at a consistently high position forces the opposing defense to play less aggressively and relieves pressure on the Stars when trying to develop a play. Post match, the 31 year old indicated is very interested in leading the young Stars team with his experience, saying , “I want pass along bits that I have picked up along the way, to help them grow and develop”.

With the win, the Stars (4-6) pull within one game of Ontario (5-5). These two squads meet again tonight down in Ontario with the kickoff slated at 7:05 pm. It will be the first of two games in two days, as the Stars face the San Diego Sockers on Friday at 7:35 pm in the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. With the Stars trailing the Fury by a single game, this week will go along way in the playoff race.

The Major Arena Soccer League Pacific Division is starting to heat up, and now is a great time to come inside and get warm. The next home game is Sunday, January 14, at 5:05 pm at Showare Center in Kent. The stars have two promotions on the evening to choose from, with either discounted tickets as a part of SPIRIT 105.3 night (checkout code SPIRIT) or a ticket and free trucker hat for $20 (checkout code HAT2018) when buying here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Sounder At Heart Weekly Roundup newsletter!

A twice weekly roundup of Seattle Sounders and OL Reign news from Sounder at Heart