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Kickers withstand late-charging Tucson

Kickers withstand late-charging Tucson

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Akira Fitzgerald makes a leaping stop during the Richmond Kickers’ victory over FC Tucson on Saturday evening at City Stadium.

Saturday’s rains may have dampened City Stadium – and inundated some of the areas around it – but they could not dampen the intensity of the 90-plus minute contest between the Richmond Kickers and their visitors, FC Tucson.

For most of the match, Tucson controlled the ball with a 2-to-1 advantage in possession time. But the Kickers struck in the opening minutes of the first half, added another goal just before intermission, then held off a furious Tuscon attack in the final minutes for a 2-1 win.

“Our press is still not where it needs to be,” said Richmond head coach Darren Sawatzky, a former assistant at FC Tucson. “I think we’re lacking a couple of the type of player that does that. Some guys are filling in and doing a great job.

“I think what we’re doing really well is at the mid-watch area, just past the half line. We pounce on things and get behind teams pretty quickly.”

Ivan Magalhães put the Kickers on the board in the seventh minute. After Tucson’s Roberto Alarcon was whistled for a foul near the left sideline, Mutaya Mwape took the penalty kick for Richmond and placed it perfectly – in the air toward the right side of the box. Magalhães headed it in for the score.

“We practice these a lot. Pretty much every day we have a little bit of set-piece practice,” Magalhães said. “I’ve got a good connection with MuMu (Mwape) and know where he likes to hit the ball. I just tried to get out there to get the ball and was fortunate to score.”

The Kickers got their second goal in the 42nd minute. Scott Thomsen sent a cross in to Luke Pavone, who was inside the Tucson box. Pavone fired, but his on-target shot was blocked by a spectacular dive by Tucson keeper Carlos Merancio. The ricochet bounced out to Richmond’s Matt Bolduc, who passed it to Ryley Kraft. Kraft in turn found Emiliano Terzaghi on the left side of the box, and Terzaghi spun around and whipped the ball into the right side of the net for his third goal of the season.

The Kickers could not afford to relax with the 2-0 lead, however. Prior to Saturday, the visitors had scored all of their goals after 87 minutes. That late intensity was on display at City Stadium, with Tucson beating its earliest scoring time with a goal in the 82nd minute when Shak Adams took a pass form Charlie Dennis and slipped the ball past Richmond keeper Akira Fitzgerald.

Part of Richmond’s problems were a pair of first-half yellow cards, including one to Kraft, that forced the defense to be a bit less aggressive.

“In the first half, you could see that me, personally, I was flying to the ball. The guy beat me on one of the plays and I brought him down,” Kraft said. “That definitely affected how I had to play. … We have to be cautious and not do anything stupid.”

Dave Lawrence can be reached at dlawrence@mechlocal.com.

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