TACOMA, WA—In what was by the far the farthest the Stars have had to travel anywhere this season, the team traveled out to the Midwest to play the St. Louis Ambush and Missouri Comets within back-to-back days this past weekend. Unfortunately, the Stars lost the final two games of their MASL season against the Ambush and Comets, being outscored 30-4 in the process.
The trip out to the Midwest certainly introduced something new to the Stars, and according to General Manager John Crouch, it was a positive experience. “We enjoyed traveling to see the quality that the more experienced teams in the Midwest brought both on and off the field,” Crouch explained. “It was good for our organization to go on the road as an opportunity to grow together.”
Crouch does acknowledge that this kind of trip was not something that the Stars had prepared for this season. “Some players were already a bit dinged up before we left and of course, a four-hour plane trip, a game, then a three-hour drive to play another game against some very solid competition was grueling for our guys,” Crouch stated. “Again though, the learning for everyone was invaluable.”
Vince McCluskey added to Crouch’s point of some of the players on the team not feeling 100% healthy. “I know personally for the game on Sunday that myself, and several others were feeling sore from the St. Louis game,” McCluskey acknowledged. “I think overall it was just tough for some of us to have to play back to back days and that it clearly affected us for Sunday’s game in Kansas City.”
The doubleheader kicked off on Saturday evening in St. Louis, where the Ambush had four players account for 12 of the team’s 13 goals. Elvir Kafedzic found the back of the net four times while Gordy Gurson and Anthony Arico scored hat tricks and Ross MacGregor recorded a brace. Derek Johnson scored two of Tacoma’s three goals while Nate Ford provided the third in the Stars 13-3 loss inside of the Family Arena.
Not even 24 hours later, the Stars had to pick themselves back up and travel a few hundred miles west to Independence to square off against the league-leading and undefeated Missouri Comets. However, the Comets showed exactly why they have not lost a game all season long and are the defending league champions. Leo Gibson and Josh Gardner alone scored 12 of the Comets’ 17 goals. Leo Gibson’s dominant eight goal and four assist performance made him the points leader, assist leader, and scoring leader of the entire MASL this season. Evan Denmark was the scorer of Tacoma’s lone goal.
McCluskey tipped his cap off to Leo Gibson, who had a great season in the MASL and had a phenomenal showing in the season finale against Tacoma. “Leo Gibson was in my opinion the craftiest, and honestly, the best indoor soccer player I’ve seen,” McCluskey stated. “Everything he did was efficient and it seemed at times he was doing whatever he wanted in an effortless manner.”
Although Tacoma was not as successful in the won-loss column in the MASL as they would have liked to be, the team believes their future looks bright in the highest level of professional indoor soccer. “I think for next year we will look to certainly be competitive and have a winning record,” McCluskey said. “With a full year to find the right guys for this team and a full preseason I believe that the future is very bright for the Stars.”
Crouch, who also sees a bright future for the Stars next season, discussed what the team learned from in the seven MASL matches that were played since back in mid-January. “After 7 games in the MASL with a fluctuating player pool, no pre-season and no preparation for that level, we fully know what to build for the future,” Crouch stated. “We know what we need to do as far as signing players, training, fitness, and game day organization and we are very confident that the product we will deliver for next year will be something special.”