Weekend Recap Q&A With Darren Sawatzky

by Brett Gleason

The Tacoma Stars returned home to the Northwest today with three road wins under their belt, keeping the club undefeated in their first full season in the Major Arena Soccer League.

The 4-0 Stars earned a 7-2 victory over the Turlock Express on Friday before taking a pair of games from the Sacramento Surge by a combined score of 13-8 on Saturday and Sunday.

A total of 10 Stars players recorded goals during the weekend, led by striker Derek Johnson, who put five into the net thanks in part to a hat trick on Saturday in Sacramento.

This Friday, Tacoma plays host to Soles De Sonora, who trail the Stars in the Pacific Division by two games. Before a week of intense preparation for their Friday match, Stars Head Coach Darren Sawatzky took some time to speak about last weekend’s victories and the upcoming divisional battle.


Three games in three days is no easy task to tackle. What kind of preparation went into last weekend? 

"We have been working for a while and the guys have bought into the system and are willing to fight for each other. The guy’s response and finding ways to win was great."


What kind of unique challenges does a three-game road weekend present?

"Players get mentally and physically tired through a stretch like this. The nutrition, rest, and recovery pieces take on a bigger role, especially at the end of the third game. We have a group of knowledgeable guys and they found ways to recover and prepare for all three games."


Not only is a three-game weekend hard, but you came away with three more wins. What was the key to going undefeated this weekend?

"Turlock has a good team and they play in a small arena, so we had to adapt to that – that first game was the best soccer we played over the weekend. The games in Sacramento were also in a small venue, so we had to battle more and fight for the points. It is still early and we have a long way to go, but it is always good to win."


How has the team reacted to their early success? How key are early wins to establishing confidence in your team?

"The road trip afforded our group a chance to really get to know each other, which is impoartant as an expansion team. I am happy for their success – the group is coming together."


How does getting three road wins this early in the season help the team?

"It is always good to have points in the bank but we have a very tough game Friday and from what I have seen, our division is as tough as any. We need points out of every game to stay competitive in the MASL."


Who/what impressed you this weekend?

"Danny Waltman is a very good goalkeeper. He is also a good leader and veteran in this league, so he has been stellar for us. The young guys are getting more and more comfortable and Derek Johnson found his scoring form. We will need guys to continually step up to compete with Sonora and teams at that level."


The 4-0 start to the season has given the team an early lead in the Pacific Division. How big is the game this weekend, with second place Sonora coming into town? 

"Sonora and San Diego are very good teams. Add in Dallas and Ontario with their veteran rosters, and we are definitely the new kid on the block. It is nice to win, but this is a long season."


The Stars have found significant amounts of success early in the season. What do you have to do as a coach to make sure that continues through the entire 20-game schedule?

"We will all need to keep learning and applying in order to be competitive. We have a group of players that want to compete with each other to get into games. I need to keep that environment healthy and perpetuating."


The Stars take on Soles De Sonora this Friday, Nov. 20 at 7:35 p.m. at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Washington. Join us for $2 beer night – grab your tickets at www.tacomastars.com or by calling 1-844-STARS-TIME.