By Contributing Writer, Russell Gurule
To me, one of the best ways to describe this season is that classic song “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the 1960’s band The Birds, “To everything turn, turn turn”. “There is a season turn, turn, turn”; to some it is a cliché, to others it is a truth. A season of Sol soccer was born with hope and promise, not just on the pitch, but to all those working to build an icon, a tradition, and an identity that everyone in Albuquerque and New Mexico could call their own.
Little did I know that I would end up with my very own soccer journey when I was asked to do this in what seems like a year ago. I’ve had the privilege to meet many individuals from many different walks of life. People, I probably wouldn’t have met, if it weren’t for Sol soccer. The Sandianistas are a special and welcoming group who are truly a part of the Sol. Thank you for your kindness and your dedicated support. The staff is an amazing group who work with a burning desire to be the absolute best. Each one of you made this season unforgettable. You are truly Sol. Thank you for your encouragement and the determination to cultivate this thing into something special.
The interns are an amazing bunch of people. Most of them are just beginning college or about to begin their careers. At times, they made me feel like a proud papa watching them grow. At other times, they made me feel old, but in a good way. Thank you for the memories.
We also have a special group of people who are retired that give selflessly and are the backbone of the Sol. Thank you for your wisdom and steady calming presence. We also have sponsors and vendors who are terrific. They came every time to every match with undying support and friendship. Thank you for being a friendly familiar face for all of us here at the Sol. Our media partners and media people did a tremendous job spreading the good news about Sol soccer. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. The club also had a wonderful training staff. Your dedication played a big role in this season. Thank you for your loving care.
Another aspect that is sometimes forgotten are the parents of our players. They ride on the dreams of their sons with great dedication. Many who stayed up late at night around the nation and around the world to watch their sons play on live streams. Parents who travel on the road to be our fans away from home. Thank you for your support.
This season was the bringing together of many tremendous dedicated people with all kinds of dreams in the hopes of making this a great season. There was joy, sadness, and at times frustration and many other emotions in between. Coaches and players along with staff and interns with many different talents all came with a desire to display them to you our fans, our friends, and most importantly our families.
The season started with a promising preseason with a group of new and returning players displaying a camaraderie that hadn’t been seen in awhile. Once again like every season, it was a new challenge to mesh players together into one cohesive unit. Imagine bringing players from different parts of the nation and from around the world to wear one jersey and be one team; players from places like Alabama, Baltimore, and the UK, or Brazil and Fresno. This is what the Sol does every season. It’s like watching a baby take his or her first steps into childhood.
I could go game by game and recount every box score, yet the box score doesn’t really give a true indication of how much effort is given on the pitch to truly be competitive in the PDL. The record may not have been as we all hoped. Yet the club was so close, with just a few breaks here, and a few breaks there. The record may very well have been different. The club fought through mountains of adversity with injuries galore, such as stitches to broken noses and college obligations which prevented the Sol from having a full roster for most of the matches this season. That fact alone didn’t stop these players from playing at their highest level.
Who could forget the stellar play of Luke Lawrence and Jack Clancy? How about the amazing play of Sam Gleadle, or Kareem Seleen and his player of the week in the PDL honor? Yuri Domiciano’s toughest shined through in difficult circumstances. What about Dillon Nino who made every minute count? Tommy Ramos came on strong at the end. Tom Paul and Sammy Kahsai gave us all a boost.
We saw the future with Greyson Dupont. Nicolas Perez and Diego Montes held the fort throughout the season. Tyler Pavlet and Jason Beaulieu had tremendous defensive moments this season. Pat Pacheco became the ambassador of Sol. Adrian Mora held the middle beautifully. Joe Barakat gave us those awesome corner kicks. Seb Gray and Marshall Miller gave us a stout defense. Many other players gave their all to this season. We thank you for giving us the game of soccer.
Most importantly for the Sol was the guidance and leadership of head coach Matt Gordon and Assistant Coach Padriac Ferrell. It was a pleasure interviewing coach Gordon who always brought clarity and encouragement after each match. Coach Padriac always brought enthusiasm and exuberance. Thank you for your professionalism and dedication.
Every season isn’t just matches alone. There are many activities and causes tied to a match to make it truly an event. This season had it’s share of events and moments. The night of pink jerseys to fight against breast cancer brought out a spark in the club and raised a lot of money for a good cause.
Another memorable night was New Mexico soccer history night where we were able to honor our very own GM Larry Espinosa and others for their contribution to the game. One remarkable event was ALS/Freedom Celebration night where we had the opportunity to honor Pat Grange in a special way. This was also the first match ever to be televised in Sol history. The night had started with rain and lightning bringing the possibility of this event to a premature close. Yet the sun shined and a franchise record crowd of 2,282 gave the event a resounding ovation. This was a milestone in Sol history.
We finished off the season with the Albuquerque Police Dept. playing a friendly match against the Albuquerque Fire Dept. This was a chance to take off the uniforms for a couple of hours and be normal people without the great responsibility of protecting this great city. Everything went well and the Fire Dept. came away with an 8-2 victory. Each event had it’s own memorable footprint on the season, thereby giving the community a chance to come together, and we are all thankful for that.
One thing that stands out in this season were all the smiles on children’s faces as they played with soccer balls, and were able to get pictures and autographs with their favorite players. Maybe they’ll remember this season more than we do. It was special to have this kind of atmosphere to create these memories for our children.
Two people should not be forgotten. President Ron Patel and GM Larry Espinosa and the people behind them made this a memorable and wonderful season. Thank you for your dreams and dedication to those dreams.
Saturday was the culmination for this season with a match against FC Boulder. Unfortunately in the last minute FC Boulder was able to grasp victory with two goals to make the final 3-1 in their favor. We stood proud of a club that gave it’s all.
Long after the match, I stared across Ben Rios Field with a sentimental feeling. The crowd was gone by now. The staff had stored away all the banners and equipment used for game days. It was just me and this empty stadium with a cool breeze blowing across the fresh grass as the stadium lights shined brightly above in what had become a quiet evening. It was almost as if a match had not been played on this field just an hour earlier. But yet, there had been a match, in fact several. They are now in our hearts and memories. This season is now officially closed. A new one is awaiting us on the horizon. I guess everything does turn. But one thing is for certain, Albuquerque, this is your team.