Mesa’s FC Arizona (FC AZ) won its opening western regional championship match July 14 on the John D. Riggs Field at Mesa Community College. FC Arizona scored three goals early in the match and was never challenged by the Albion SC team from San Diego. The FC AZ goals were scored by David Alton, Mo Salama and Cesar Mexia.
FC AZ was the Southwest National Premiere Soccer League (NPLS) Regional Champion and finished its inaugural regular season with a 12-0-4 record.
The win Friday night advances FC AZ to the west regional semi-final game. As the regular season league champs FC AZ earned home field advantage for the championships. The semi-final game will be on July 22 at Riggs Field starting at 7:30 pm.
Friday night’s game turned into a defensive struggle during the second half with aggressive tackling by both teams. The game was marred by three red cards and six yellows. In an interview following the game, coach Aidan Davison described the win as “ugly” but a “team victory. FC Arizona has been a strong defensive team all year and it was obvious tonight,” said Davison.
An incident at the 80-minute point of the game resulted in an eight-minute stoppage of play and three red cards. Both Mexia and Alejandro Aquilar of FC AZ received red cards as did Jean Antione of Abion SC.
The red cards for the two FC AZ forwards are a significant challenge for coach Davison since both players have been an important part of the offense. By receiving a red card each player is automatically suspended for the next game. A team official stated the FC AZ will file an official protest regarding the red card given to Mexia.
FC AZ fans were elated with the first playoff victory for a team in its first year. Fans and team members celebrated the victory on the filed after the game. Davison and the FC players were elated by all the fan support and encouraged everyone to join Rampant (the team mascot) as they continue their drive to the National Premiere League West Regional Championship.
– Ted Wendel is staff photographer for MyNewsMesa.com.