Amy Garelick Receives the "She Starts In Tucson" Trophy as Successor Kelly Pierce Keeps Perfect Season Alive
Published Jun 18, 2021

It was a big, boisterous crowd for a Wednesday night as FC Tucson Women hosted their second match of the 2021 season on June 9th by welcoming FC Arizona, based out Phoenix about 100 miles north. The home side did not disappoint, winning 2-0 to remain unbeaten in the young season. Former Mexican international, Luz Duarte, continued her torrid goalscoring pace notching her third goal of the season after recording a brace in the previous match – she’s now scored at least one goal in every game so far this season. To cap off an almost perfect night the club recognized former head coach, Amy Garelick, who has been with the organization right from the beginning, for her tireless work for the growth of women's soccer in Tucson.


In 2013, Garelick was coaching youth teams for the Tucson Soccer Academy when the club was approached by the WPSL about launching a team in Tucson – she reluctantly took the reins, assisted by her husband Todd and Charlie MacCabe. Comprised mostly of local out-of-season collegiate players, TSA went 6-1-1 to win the Big Sky Conference before falling to the San Diego WFC SeaLions 2-0 in the Regional Semifinals – earning her Conference Coach of the Year honors in the process.


When FC Tucson took over administration of the team two year laters in 2015, Garelick remained at the helm. The team had become known as a haven for college players from the Tucson area during the summer but behind the FC Tucson badge, the team began to attract players from beyond southern Arizona.


"With FC Tucson, we're able to create a professional atmosphere. We're not playing at a park. We're not playing at a high school stadium. We have our own stadium, our own training facility. It's a phenomenal environment," Garelick said. "You have young women who value that. They come and they are treated well, not just as an afterthought. Young women want to come and play for us because of it."


Garelick went 31-10-20 in the six seasons she coached the side and through that entire time, not once did she field the same starting 11 in consecutive games.


"In this league, consistency is probably the biggest challenge we face," Garelick said. "They aren't getting paid to play. They have jobs, internships, they go to summer school. They can't be at every practice and every game. It's unrealistic to ask that of them. We were lucky enough to draw a big enough pool of players that the level of play did not drop when someone could not be there."


It is a challenge that remains today, almost to the point of novelty. In more than 80 matches, the FC Tucson Women have yet to field the same staring 11 in consecutive matches.


Entering the 2018 season, Garelick knew her time in charge was coming to an end as her children were getting older and her desire to coach younger girls again grew stronger. It was then decided the 2018 season would be her last at the helm of the FC Tucson Women, which turned out to be the best yet. Garelick’s side won the incredibly competitive Pac South Division and reached the West Region Conference final only to fall to eventual league champion, the Seattle Sounders Women.


That following year, Kelly Pierce was hand-picked to be Garelick's successor. Pierce had been with the team since its inception as a player and captain – she was as much a part of the team as Garelick.


"Kelly was a natural fit. She was a successful high school coach and former player," Garalick said. "She had such a great rapport with the players. She is someone young women want to play for."


In 2019, Pierce's first season in charge, the club went 6-1-1 and tied for first in the Pac South Conference Desert Division with Albuquerque FC.


"The transition from Amy to Kelly was almost seamless," Charlie MacCabe, longtime FC Tucson Women's assistant coach, said. "They are different people, different coaches. Kelly was able to come in and put her mark on the program while maintaining the core philosophies Amy had ingrained over the years."


As Pierce began to assemble the 30-plus woman roster for the 2021 season, she was pleasantly surprised by the level of commitment she was seeing. For many of the players, the COVID-19 pandemic-induced forced time off only reinforced their love for the game and their desire to play it – no more so than Duarte, the former Mexican international.


"Luz came in fully committed," Pierce said. "She is a special player to begin with, but this year there seems to be a little something extra."


That little something extra has produced four goals in three games – two in the season opener versus the El Paso Surf and one apiece versus FC Arizona and in their 5-1 win over Atomic City FC.


FC Tucson Women now sit at the top of the Desert Conference table with nine points and are set to face off against FC Arizona again, this time in Phoenix, on Saturday, June 19 – their second meeting within ten days.


"It's always difficult to play someone a second time," Pierce said. "Playing them twice in such a short time and getting a good result is even more difficult.”


FC Arizona is currently in second place in the Desert Conference at 2-0-2 with six points and enters Saturday’s match fresh off a 2-1 Phoenix derby victory over SC del Sol last weekend.


Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. (PT) at Campo Verde High School in Gilbert.


Watch it at  FC Tucson @ FC Arizona on


  Author:  Andrew Mosier,  @AndrewMosier6  (twitter)
  WPSL Contributor - West Region