By Contributing Writer, Russell Gurule
The Southwest Showdown was a tale of two matches and two cities all vying for the coveted Golden Rattler to symbolize whose the best in this vast heated rivalry. The Sol made their way down to Southern Arizona to play in the hotbox that is Tucson’s home field. The match was intense in front of a boisterous crowd as FC Tucson was able to jump in front for a 3-0 lead before the half.
The Sol struggled to manufacture possessions in the second half while goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu clocked in for his overtime shift and was able to blank FC Tucson for the whole entire second half. Tommy Ramos was able to keep the score proper with a strong header to finish scoring at 3-1 in favor of FC Tucson. The Sol fought to make the proverbial comeback. But to no avail. The Sol left Tucson still looking for that first win against Tucson.
Saturday’s game loomed large with anticipation for what could be one if not the biggest nights in the Sol’s franchise history. Grand plans were made and the crowd was ready. Yet with any great event, adversity decides to make an appearance. Dark clouds rolled across UNM’s soccer complex as if they where on a conveyor belt. Lighting shot through the sky demanding respect. The match was instantly delayed for 30minutes with the dread of a possible rain out for the first ever live television broadcast. Truly a milestone event in franchise history. Then favor shined brightly on the Sol as the sun gave it’s approval for this event to continue with a franchise record of 2,282 in attendance. The crowd was able to enjoy fireworks after the match.
The match started at a new time and perhaps a good omen for the Sol. The match was physical as they always are with an opponent like Tucson. The fourth minute of the match taught us about the frailty of life and how precious it is as the crowd stood in remembrance of the great Pat Grange.
Then Sam Gleadle was able to continue his season long brilliance with a goal assisted by Greyson Dupont to put the Sol ahead in the first half. FC Tucson was able to respond tying the score 1-1 by halftime. The second half began with Mr. Jack Clancy, who playing through pain from a broken nose a couple of weeks ago, scored off a free kick to put the Sol up 2-1. Not to be deterred, FC Tucson responded right away to tie the score 2-2 in what would be a hold the fort mentality by the Sol to preserve the draw. Goalkeeper Jason Beaulieu clocked in for another overtime shift along with Dillon Nino to keep FC Tucson at bay. The final score was a 2-2 draw with the Sol earning 1pt to increase their pt total to 7 for the season.
Best wishes go to Luke Lawrence as he recovers from injury, and also Sammy Kashai as he was unable to continue with the club due to a family matter. We hope to see Luke back on the pitch soon, and hopefully we’ll see Sammy next season. It’s a pleasure watching both of them play. Best wishes all around.
The club will now embark on a road trip in what seems like a truck driver’s schedule through the mountain division as they face FC Tucson on Monday. Then it’s off to the Rocky Mountains to play FC Boulder on Thursday with a quick drive down to Denver to play the Colorado Rapids on Saturday. The Sol will be back in action on the 13th against FC Boulder at Ben Rios Field.
Head Coach Matt Gordon gives his thoughts on Thursday’s road game at FC Tucson:
“It’s a hot house down there, great job of creating atmosphere. One thing I will say, and I’m on record before, this is the best team we’ve played all season without a doubt”
His thoughts on Monday’s game against FC Tucson:
“I think the atmosphere in Tucson got to us a little bit. I think going into Monday’s game, we go back there positive. We’ve seen that atmosphere now, we understand it. We can deal with it a different way.”
His thoughts on Saturday’s game against FC Tucson:
“It was a grind at times. I couldn’t be prouder of the group; playing against a group like Tucson. The guys understand what we want out of the game.” and “They wanted to do well. I thought they were dangerous at times tonight.”
His thoughts on Saturday’s crowd:
“The crowd was great all season. Great facility to watch soccer.” and “Hopefully we can repeat that in two weeks time.” and “Big thanks to UNM for letting us play here; they’re a big part of what we do.”
His thoughts on the playoffs:
“We still got a lot of points on the board now.” and “It’s about getting guys fresh.”
NEXT HOME GAME:
Ice Cream Social Night
Albuquerque Sol FC vs FC Boulder
Ben Rios Field at St. Pius High School at 7:00pm July 13th
Ice Cream Social Night is for the first 100 kids through the gate to receive a tasty ice cream treat.
Thank you to our sponsors and partners for each moment of Sol soccer. Thank you to UNM Athletics for their gracious hospitality. Most importantly thank you to our fans for your continuous support!
I hope to see you at the next match!