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Albuquerque FC Shows Strength in 3-0 Win Against FC Tucson in Home Opener

Match 3, Post-Match Edition: Albuquerque FC outpower FC Tucson in Home Opener 3-0 at Ben Rios Field. 

By Chris Walker | June 11, 2019 | seekandstrikecollective@gmail.com

Albuquerque FC, New Mexico’s first-ever semi-professional club in the Women’s Premier Soccer League (WPSL), is already making ripples 3 matches into their 8-match season. They won against Phoenix Del Sol 4-0 and lost a late-game shocker to FC Tucson 2-1. Sunday afternoon, ABQ FC hosted visiting FC Tucson for their first home match of the season. For only being their third match together, ABQ FC has given its Desert Division opponents some competition. There is some built-in chemistry because many of these players have played with each other through club teams. Four of the players, Kate Browning, Leilani Baker, Gwen Maly, and Avadney Gerard-Osbourne, are current University of New Mexico Lobos. While others are playing Division 1 soccer outside of New Mexico and have received all-conference honors. Brianna Martinez, who plays for the University of Notre Dame, is also a member of the U-20 Women’s National Team. Head Coach Pancho Macias says his players work as a team and play as a team. “Everyone’s willing to do their work and that’s important when you play at this level,” Macias said. “No one is above anyone else. Everyone feels like they can contribute,” Macias added.

Evidence of their hard work was witnessed Sunday afternoon on Ben Rios Field at St. Pius High School. ABQ FC convincingly won in the match against FC Tucson 3-0 putting up big plays on both sides of the pitch. During the first half, both teams were off to a slow start. ABQ FC opened with a high press and had possession of the ball most of the half. They had good looks on FC Tucson’s goal but couldn’t put anything past their goalkeeper. “We were getting a lot of chances and they weren’t going in,” Maly said. ABQ FC substituted heavy within the first 25 minutes of play. It wasn’t an issue of fatigue but, rather finding the right personnel for the play sequence. “It’s still early on in the season so, some of the things we’re looking at is putting together the right combination,” Macias commented. “We’re trying to see who works well with other players,” Macias added.

Maly kept taking her chances and found the inside of the net, her third of the season, just a minute into stoppage time. This put ABQ FC up 1-0 just before stoppage time ended. Maly, who led the Lobos in goals scored, shots taken, and points during the 2018 season, finished the day with 2 shots on goal and 1 goal. Leilani Baker took some of the focus off Maly playing out on the wing. Baker is usually isolated, so she has opportunities to play 1v1 against opponents. Baker was forceful with every touch she had on the ball. Her pace, quickness, and speed made her a threat against FC Tucson. They never doubled-down on Baker, who finished with 3 shots on goal in this match. “She is more than capable of taking anyone on,” Macias said.

Right from the onset of the second half, FC Tucson came out more driven. They controlled possession through the first 20 minutes into the second half. FC Tucson pushed the ball up and created chances. ABQ FC goalkeeper Katherine Robinson made some high-quality saves throughout the match. She finished with 9 saves on the day (20 overall on the season). FC Tucson’s Brianna Barreiro had Robinson on constant watch. ABQ FC made some costly turnovers in their back third that FC Tucson sought to capitalize on. Robinson, along with the help of her teammate, came up big.

“The last game was really good for our team chemistry. Losing in those last few minutes, I think we all had each other’s backs. We were there for each other and I think we really built off that,” Robinson said. “Getting to play them again and actually beating them today was really great for our team chemistry,” Robinson remarked. ABQ FC’s Calista Cordero rung a shot into the net at the 82’ from a set piece ricochet sitting inside the box. The game really opened at this point. ABQ FC, up 2-0, was poised to protect their clean sheet. At the 91’, Brittney Harris set up for a free kick awarded from a bad foul and vaulted a moon shot that went directly into the net. ABQ FC went up 3-0 on the scoreboard and that is how the game would end.

Though the team has had a pair of great showings through three matches, there are still some things for them to work on to find their most competitive form. “We have to work on our final ball. We made some good chances but, the final ball was lacking,” Maly said. “We have to work on positioning and getting comfortable with our shape,” Robinson added. “Also getting comfortable with how Pancho likes to play and with everyone else we haven’t played with before,” Robinson said. “We have to make sure that we don’t give up the ball in vulnerable places and then as we transition defensively, we need to communicate a little better to make sure everyone is on the same page,” Macias responded.

Next Up: Albuquerque FC (2-1-0) travels to Tempe to play FC Arizona (0-3-0). The match will be played at Tempe Sports Complex at 7:00 pm MST.

Photo Credit: Amanda Getchell

Chris Walker is a writer for Seek & Strike Collective covering NM United, Albuquerque Sol FC, and Albuquerque FC. Follow him on Twitter and join in on the conversation. @_ChrisWalker505

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