Stars Gear Up For Three-Game Weekend

by Brett Gleason

The Tacoma Stars opened their first full season in the Major Arena Soccer League with a 5-1 victory over the Sacramento Surge on Friday night. Forward Dan Antoniuk led the charge with a hat trick, while goalkeeper Danny Waltman tallied 16 saves in the match.

The win was a crucial first step for the Stars, who returned to the pitch after over two decades of absence from professional indoor soccer.

“Getting the win as a result is far more important than scoring the goals,” Antoniuk said. “I’m just so much happier about the win. The team coming out and getting that victory for the fans. On the personal side, three goals is a great start for me, but the game is over. We’ve got nineteen more and we really need to focus on the next task at hand.”

With 3,710 on hand at the ShoWare Center to witness the victory by the Stars, the electric environment was a perfect opportunity to get the region reacquainted with Tacoma’s long-gone indoor soccer franchise.

“Great night – the crowd was electric and the team played well,” Waltman said. “We got the result we wanted and nostalgia was all over the place. It was like a Stars Family reunion, there was family all over the building. A shutout would have made it perfect, but even to allow only one goal is pretty special.”

Following the season-opening win, the club will travel south to California for a set of three games in as many days, an early test of skill and stamina for a young team.

While acknowledging the difficulties of a three-game weekend, Stars Head Coach Darren Sawatzky was quick to point out that this team was built to be competitive out of the gate.

“They’ve been working so hard to be fit,” Sawatzky said. “Pro players that have to play three games in three days have to have the correct mental approach. I know these players and I have a long history with most of them – I know they have that winning mentality, which sometimes is more important than technical ability.”

Waltman echoed his coach’s sentiment’s, believing that the team is well-prepared for the daunting test ahead of them.

“Back-to-back games are hard, and back-to-back-to-back games are especially difficult,” Waltman said. “We know we have an extremely difficult test ahead of us, but we are confident (Coach Sawatzky) has us prepared. Fitness comes into play and we’ve been getting ready for this. We’ve been getting ourselves into the mentality for this test ahead of us.”

The Stars will take on the Turlock Express this Friday and pair up against the Sacramento Surge twice more on Saturday and Sunday. Live stats for all games can be found on while live webcasts can be found through Go Live Sports Cast.