Finishing Strong to Start Strong in 2020

The way the 2019 Tacoma Defiance season ended is a sign of things to come.

In the beginning of the season, Defiance struggled. Wins were infrequent. There were blowouts. Hope was a hard thing to find. Nevertheless, from that start there was growth. The great Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” was right when she wrote, “Things are never as bad as they seem.” Defiance grew from those bad results and ended the season looking sharp.

What an end it was. Five matches without a loss were capped off by a strong 3-1 win over Austin Bold FC. Six of our eight wins came in the final fifteen games. Head coach Chris Little thinks this is the sign of what Tacoma Defiance can be in the future.

“These are some of the things we are capable of us a group. We’ve got to be consistent to be successful. We’ve got to grow. This is good progress. It gives us good momentum going into next season, ending on a positive note. We’re pleased with them. They deserve it.”

Marlon Vargas banged in a goal and assisted on another in that last win. He applied the season’s worth of lessons in that massive performance as a substitute.

“Going back and looking at the whole season I think that every time we were at home we were hard to play against. Sometimes we didn’t get the results, but we learn through our mistakes. Coming to the end of the season we ended up clicking. We got the results that we needed and it put us in a good position.”

Jesse Daley slammed in Vargas’ pass to net the Australians second goal of the year. A member of the leadership committee Daley credits a lineup growing together to the late season success.

We all want to fight for each other.

“I think continuity on the team. Fielding a similar team week in and week out helps us massively. We have a really good core group of boys who hopefully go on to long professional careers. We all want to fight for each other. We all want to play for the club.”

Little sees the late season surge as a reward for the players that grinded through the year.

“They’ve worked so hard for us. There have been momentum swings and tough patches, but they’ve always worked hard. They’ve always applied themselves. They finished strongly and shown what they are capable of.”

Vargas credits the team’s improvement to another membership of the leadership team. Winger Shandon Hopeau is the Defiance contracted player who leads the squad in goals, is tied in assists, and is third in chance creation. But it is Hopeau’s contributions on defense that helped show the younger players how to play the game.

“We always talk about him in the team meetings, especially the unit meetings with Chris Little. We always talk about the way he’s developed defending-wise. Looking at his defending I see how it helped him so much. It helped him become the player he is right now. He’s one of the best players on the team. He helped us get goals, assists, wins.”

Daley wants the end of season performance to stick with the team over the winter offseason. The feeling of those wins needs to be a positive memory.

“We’ve had so many good performances throughout the season. We haven’t rewarded ourselves, so to finish the last five games unbeaten is a relief. Hopefully it’s something to build on.”

Like most teenagers, Marlon Vargas is already focusing on the future.

“I want us to start the season the way we ended. Hopefully then we maintain it and stay consistent throughout the whole season next year.”

Defiantly Tacoma