Stars Ride Defense To 6-4 Victory Over Baja

by Brett Gleason

TACOMA, Wash. -- An early deluge of offense and a total of 17 blocks on defense powered the Tacoma Stars (7-3) to a 6-4 victory over visiting Atletico Baja (5-5) on Saturday night at the ShoWare Center.

Tacoma jumped out to a 2-0 lead just 35 seconds into the match, and led by a margin of 6-0 midway through the second quarter before holding on for the victory, keeping the Stars a perfect 5-0 at home this season. The defense endured 29 shots and laid down 17 saves while allowing just four goals over the course of the match.

Forward Dan Antoniuk led the offensive side of the ball with two goals, while defenders Troy Peterson and Cory Keitz checked in with six and four blocks, respectively. Stars goalkeeper Danny Waltman logged nine saves on 13 shots through 60 minutes in goal.

The Stars broke open the scoring just seven seconds into the match when Antoniuk took a pass from midfielder Raphael Cox and put a shot past Baja goalkeeper Mario Escobar. Forward Vince McCluskey followed just 28 seconds later with an unassisted score to move Tacoma’s edge out to 2-0. Tacoma’s Derek Johnson and Joseph Cairel also found the back of the net in the opening quarter, expanding the Stars advantage to 4-0.

Antoniuk and forward Alex Megson dropped in goals in the first half of the second quarter to pull the Stars lead out to half a dozen at 6-0. Baja avoided a first-half shutout on a goal from Oswaldo Lara with just over eight minutes remaining in the second quarter, sending the two teams into the locker rooms for halftime with Tacoma leading 6-1.

Baja scored once in the third quarter and posted a pair of extra-attacker goals in the final period to pull within two goals of Tacoma; however, the Stars would hold on for their third straight victory.

The victory pulled the Stars into a tie for first in the Major Arena Soccer League Pacific Division with the San Diego Sockers (7-3).

The Stars now face a short week before hosting the Cedar Rapids Rampage at home in the ShoWare Center on Friday, Jan. 13 with a first kick scheduled for 7:35 p.m. PT.

 Single game tickets, season ticket packages, group outings, family packs, and suite offerings for the Tacoma Stars 2016-17 season are available now. To purchase, call 1-844-STARS-TIME or visit the Stars online at The most up-to-date news and notes about the Stars can be found by following the Stars on Twitter (@TacomaStarsSC) or liking the team on Facebook.