Sunday, May 26, 2013
HUNTINGDON BEACH, Calif. — Conner Bevans, a Southern California native, had numerous friends and family in the crowd as FC Tucson visited the OC Blues Strikers on Sunday night. Despite not getting the start in front of his loved ones, Bevans sent the entire clan home happy with his 91st-minute goal to earn FC Tucson a 1-1 draw against the Strikers.
“That’s exactly why they came here and I gave them exactly what they wanted,” Bevans said. “Would’ve been nice to get another one, obviously but they’ll take it. You could tell by the celebration.”
Bevans ran straight to his personal cheering section following the goal and seemingly received a hug from the entire crowd at once. The goal was his first in PDL play, but not the first time he’s been the late-match hero.
In the first round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Bevans was subbed in and scored two late goals to help FC Tucson upset Phoenix FC. Then in the U.S Open Cup second round, Bevans came off the bench and provided the assist for FC Tucson’s second-half, go-ahead goal.
“I’m still trying to prove myself,” Bevans said. “I’m not really an established name yet. So coming off the bench I’m putting in my 100 percent, trying to get the results and trying to get my name in the starting lineup.”
The moment was a positive release for FC Tucson, who had played 90 minutes of fast, tense and chippy soccer against a scrappy OC Blues squad.
The first half ended tied at zero but both clubs lost players to red cards in 38th minute after several players pushed and shoved each other after the whistle.
The match became more physical in the second half and FC Tucson players and coaches said they believed the match got out of control but no one would point to officiating as the reason for the draw.
“We thought some calls didn’t go our way today,” said FC Tucson midfielder Eli Galbraith-Knapp. “But we hung in there and stuck it out as a team because that’s what we have to do. We’re going to beat them at home next time (but) we’re disappointed a little bit.”
Added FC Tucson Head Coach Rick Schantz: “I don’t think (the officials) were consistent and that’s what I want the most as a coach.”
OC Blues Strikers FC opened the match’s scoring in the 58th minute when Giovanni Santana beat his defender into the left side of the box and then slotted his shot into the right side of the net past a diving Michael D’Arrigo.
FC Tucson had several scoring chances as the second half wore on but had trouble finishing. Bevans had a shot at an open net in the 81st minute but the shot went wide left. Gabe Silviera then found the end of a Saeed Robinson corner but his header sailed over the bar.
FC Tucson’s chances of drawing seemed to disappear when Stephen Posa was given a red card in the 88th minute but the Bevans goal helped the club salvage one point out of a possible six on this Southern California swing.
“This kid is a wunderkind,” said Schantz. “He’s winning games for us late, non-stop. (And) in front of his family and friends. This team has a little bit of magic going for them.”