Fans of Tacoma indoor soccer are living through the best of two worlds right now. Not only are the Tacoma Stars of the Major Arena Soccer League in a wild playoff race with rival Ontario, but on the smaller side, the Tacoma Stars Reserves will be playing for the Western Indoor Soccer League championship on Saturday, Feb. 17, in Bellingham.
With just four games remaining in the regular season for the MASL Stars, the stakes in each game are ever-increasing. Following a 10-3 setback to perennial powerhouse (and Tacoma nemesis) San Diego on Friday, Feb. 9, Tacoma finds themselves pretty much in a must-win state of affairs to close out the season.
Tacoma (8-10) trails the Ontario Fury (9-10) by one game in the win column. The teams will face each other on Thursday, Feb. 15, in what is easily the biggest game of the season for both teams. A win by the Stars will put Tacoma in the driver’s seat; the boys from the Puget Sound have knocked-off their foes from the south in all three matches this season. A win would knot the teams’ records at 9-10, but with Tacoma gaining the advantage due to head-to-head competition.
The Stars will have very little rest as they will then head back north to pay a visit to the Turlock Express (2-17). With nothing but pride on the line to play for, Turlock is going to be a dangerous team in this match. They already have an advantage in every game due to the incredibly small playing surface they host games on. With the pressure fully on Tacoma, Turlock should be able to play free and easy.
If Tacoma is going to cement themselves as a playoff-caliber club, they’re going to have to be able to come into these matches against lesser foes, and drop the hammer on them.
Both games begin at 7:05 p.m. and can be watched live on the MASLtv Youtube channel. While the feed from Ontario is top-notch, you may grit your teeth watching the Turlock broadcast. We’re just going to leave it at that.
Following their double-dip on the road, Tacoma will return home for their fourth (and final) match against Ontario on Friday, Feb. 23, at 7:35 p.m. It’s possible that a victory could sew-up a playoff berth for either team in this match, so it should be a high-energy, no sitting down affair at the Accesso ShoWare Center in Kent.
On the WISL side, the Tacoma Stars Reserves have been hitting on all cylinders to close out the season and head into the playoffs. After beginning the season with a 2-2 record, the Reserves have put together a five-game winning streak that included a 6-4 victory over two-time defending champion Bellingham.
Tacoma finished the season just a single game behind Bellingham and hosted their semifinal match against an Olympic Force squad that has turned into one the Reserves most fierce rivals. The Reserves beat Olympic 8-5 in Bremerton on Saturday, Feb. 3, to secure the second seed to the playoffs. The Force would be looking for payback when they visited the Tacoma Soccer Center on Saturday, Feb. 10, with a ticket to the WISL championship going to the victors.
Olympic kept it tight against the Stars in the early going and even brought a 2-1 lead into the locker rooms at halftime. However, the floodgates opened up on them in the third quarter as the Reserves poured on four unanswered goals to take a 5-2 lead into the final stanza. There would be no slowing down for the Stars in the fourth, as they punched in another three goals to run away with an 8-3 victory. The defense was able to hold the regular season scoring champion Alex Hernandez without a goal on the night.
On the flipside, Tacoma’s Mark Lee scored two goals in the third quarter, and added two more in the fourth. The four-goal performance earned Lee the WISL Offensive Player of the Week Award. Tacoma also saw goals from veterans Nate Ford and Danny Minniti. Adrian Correa seemed to be everywhere on the field for the entire game, wreaking havoc on the Force’s game plan. He was also rewarded with a goal. Tacoma’s JJ Schmeck sealed the deal with a low-burner that crossed the goal-line just before the final second ticked off of the scoreboard.
Tacoma will be looking to regain the WISL trophy that they won in the WISL’s inaugural 2015 season. The Reserves will kick-off against Bellingham United at the Bellingham Sportsplex on Saturday, Feb. 17, at 7:30 p.m.
Tacoma Stars Reserves (7-2) vs. Bellingham United (8-1)
Western Indoor Soccer League
Saturday, Feb. 17 – 7:30 p.m.
Tickets – Adults – $8, Kids – $5
Tacoma Stars vs. Ontario Fury
Accesso ShoWare Center
Friday, Feb. 23 – 7:35 p.m.
Tacoma Stars vs. Kansas City Comets
Game 22 (season finale)
Accesso ShoWare Center
Friday, March 2 – 7:35 p.m.