Tacoma, WA - Utica City FC went all the way to the Pacific Northwest for the latest kickoff of the season–play started at 10:11 PM EST. Utica went down early and a late comeback effort fell short for the away side as Tacoma ended up victorious by a score of 10-7.

Julian Rodriguez started his first game of the season with Andrew Coughlin and Brian Wilkin sidelined due to illness. The game started off on the wrong foot for Utica as just over a minute in a challenge flag was thrown from the Tacoma bench. The resulting review handed a free kick to Tacoma right outside of the UCFC box, and on the resulting free kick Jamael Cox lifted a ball into the top corner to give the home side a 1-0 lead. Tacoma would then tack on a shorthanded goal at the 2:20 mark with Kyle Rivers finding an open net after the Stars pinched the ball in the Utica defensive half. Three minutes later, Utica would cut the deficit in half as Nilton de Andrade went bar down past Chris Toth in the Tacoma net. The Stars rebounded quickly, with Alex Caceres lifting one past Rodriguez for 3-1. The goalscoring continued as City went bar down again–this time with Steven Fernandez firing a powerful shot that ticked off of the hands of Toth and into the net for 3-2. Rodriguez made a save off of his face, injuring the starting goalkeeper for City and forcing Wilkin into action. Logan Roberts made a goal-line clearance in the closing moments of the first quarter to keep the score at 3-2 heading to the second.

The second quarter saw Rodriguez head back into the Utica net, recovering quickly from the injury scare in the first. It took until the 6:26 mark in the second quarter for a goal to be scored, and it was yet another shorthanded goal for the hosts–this time with Nick Perera calling his own number to slam the ball home. Ninety seconds later, Emmanuel Belliard kept UCFC in it with a tap-in at the back post to make it a 4-3 Tacoma lead. Rodriguez made a triple save ending with the ball making contact with his face again, leading to Wilkin re-entering the game at the 8:10 mark in the second frame. The Stars worked another passing move to unlock the Utica defense, with Cox passing home his second goal of the night at the 10:14 mark. That pushed the score to 5-3 in favor of Tacoma, and the game would head to halftime.

The story of the first half continued–shorthanded goals. This time, however, it was in favor of the away side. After Geo Alves was called for a tripping penalty, Franck Tayou received a pass from Ronaldinho Diniz at the 5:58 mark and fired into the top right corner to bring Utica within 1. The game saw chance after chance go awry on both sides. Wilkin made two huge saves–pushing one off of his right post and then denying Perera on a penalty shot. However, the pressure held up for Tacoma and Cox scored his third goal of the night on the Stars’ ensuing power play. That pushed the game to 6-4 and brought the contest to the final quarter of play.

With work to do in the last 15, Utica got it started in a perfect fashion. Ronaldinho burst through the Tacoma defense, before setting up Fernandez for his second goal of the game at the 2:40 mark to bring Utica back within one. UCFC continued the firepower as Geo Alves fired a shot in from distance to tie things up with under 10 minutes left to play. The pressure backfired for City, as the Stars pulled a quick-fire counter setting up Perera to find the goal. The score sat 7-6 in favor of the home team with half of the quarter remaining. Perera found another goal at the 09:55 mark, giving the reigning league MVP 6 points on the night. Tacoma found a great transition to make it 9-6, with Micheal Ramos finding a goal 11 and a half minutes into the quarter. The Stars would push double digits onto the scoreboard with an empty net goal from Adrian Correa. A late consolation from de Andrade would make the final scoreline 10-7 in favor of Tacoma. 

After going 0 for 2 on the first weekend of a 4-game road stretch, UCFC heads to Missouri next weekend. Utica plays the Kansas City Comets on Friday, January 12th at 8:05 pm EST. Then, it is a return to the Adirondack Bank Center on Sunday, January 21st as the Utica Riggies–tickets for that match are still available at ucfctickets.com.