Photo by Bob Bunn – Tacoma Stars head coach Darren Sawatzky discusses the plan of attack with his new-look club. With the off-season additions of Mike Ramos, Matt Clare, Adam West, James Riley and Milan Ivanovic, the Stars look like a legitimate contender for the Major Arena Soccer League Pacific Division title this season. Tacoma hosts Dallas on Friday, Dec. 7, at 7:35 p.m. in the Accesso ShoWare Center.

It’s been an extra-long off-season for Tacoma Stars fans, as the Major Arena Soccer League pushed back its season openers by more than a month to take advantage of fan interest following the end of the Major League Soccer season. The wait was well-worth it for the Puget Sound’s indoor soccer fans, as the Stars dropped a dozen goals on their opponents from Turlock for an impressive 12-2 victory.

A crowd of 3,437 fans were on hand at the Accesso ShoWare Center on Saturday, Dec. 1, to welcome the local boys back to action. After a busy off-season that saw quite a few alterations to the Tacoma roster, the fans were expecting some fireworks from the fresh combination of players, and the Stars delivered.

Following a successful 2017-18 season that saw the Stars make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, there was no way for Tacoma to keep up with their rivals from San Diego and Ontario, if they didn’t add some potency to the Tacoma offense.

If opening night was any sort of indication as to how this team is going to look this season, then it appears that Tacoma has the look of a team that should dominate the clubs that they should be able to handle. They also should have enough firepower, to go along with a solid defense, to stay in the race for the full-length of this season with the other top teams.

It’s been over 31 years since the Tacoma Stars played for the MISL championship. As many die-hard fans are aware, it went south for the Stars in overtime of game seven, as the Dallas Sidekicks completed a stunning comeback to snatch the trophy away from the favored Stars.

Those Dallas Sidekicks have returned to the MASL during the recent off-season and will be making a trip north to face the Stars on Friday, Dec. 7. When it comes to feelings of revenge, there is one team at the top of the list for long-time Stars fans, and that’s easily the Sidekicks.

The Stars are even offering 50-percent discounts on all remaining seats for the match at the Accesso ShoWare Center, in hopes to pack the place to the hilt. Visit www.tacomastars.comand get in on the action.

Getting back to the home opener, Tacoma jumped all over Turlock early and often. Philip Lund got into the act twice, before any of his teammates could get a chance to add a goal to the board. Last season, the newcomer from Denmark, was named the MASL’s Co-Rookie of the Year. This season, he looks even more comfortable and familiar with the indoor game.

After Lund took a sweet feed from Nick Perera for the first goal just 46 seconds into the match, Lund struck again just two minutes later off of another nice pass from Troy Peterson. Turlock would then put up a solid defensive effort, while dodging a barrage of shots by the Stars. Tacoma would make it 3-0 when former Seattle Sounders’ fan favorite James Riley took a Perera feed and found the back of the net to close out the scoring in the first quarter.

The second quarter was a four-pack for Tacoma. Making his dramatic return to the Stars, Adam West put one in the back of the net off of a feed from Lund. After two seasons away from the indoor game, the return of the former Bellarmine Prep standout was a highlight for fans who remembered him as a bit of a general out on the field for Tacoma. A Chase Hanson goal off a feed from Nick Perera put Tacoma up 5-0 with over 11 minutes remaining in the first half.

Perera would stop the passing for the moment and got into the scoring act midway through the second quarter off an assist from Hanson. Former Wilson High School standout Joey Gjertsen made it 7-0 for Tacoma off another feed from Perera to close out the scoring in the first half.

The fireworks continued for Tacoma in the third quarter. Former Stadium stud Jamael Cox blasted a solo shot to make the score 8-0 with more than 12 minutes remaining in the period. Former San Diego Sockers standout Matt Clare got into the scoring act off an unselfish extra pass by returning firestarter Mike Ramos midway through the third quarter to make the score 9-0.

Turlock would get on the board just 44 seconds following Clare’s goal to make the score 9-1 to close the third quarter. Perera would tack-on two more goals for a hat trick, to go along with his four assists on the night. Former UPS Logger Vince McCluskey made it a dozen with a solo goal with just over five minutes remaining in the match for the 12-2 final score.

Tacoma hosts Dallas on Friday, Dec. 7, followed by another home match against rival Ontario on Saturday, Dec. 15. Following these two home matches, Tacoma will not return home until they host the defending MASL Western Conference champions Monterrey Flash on Friday, Jan. 11.

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