Every season the Albuquerque Sol (4-5-4) and FC Tucson (5-3-3) play for the copper “Golden Rattler” trophy. The Premier Development League team with the most total points across the four regular-season meetings keeps the rattle snake prize. For four seasons, that’s gone to FC Tucson.
But in Year 5, the Sol gets the hardware after a 3-3 draw with FC Tucson on Saturday night at St. Pius X High School. The teams split the season series with two draws and one win each but the Sol posted a better goal differential.
“I’ve been in this league five years and we battled them,” former Lobo Luke Lawrence said. “They’re moving up so we’ll get to keep it forever now.”
Unfortunately, FC Tucson didn’t pack the trophy for its trip to Albuquerque.
“Once we get it we’ll get some team pictures with it and give it to Lencho (Larry Espinoza the Sol’s general manager),” Lawrence said. “He deserves it,”
However, FC Tucson sent an apologetic message offering to mail it, noting its absence was an equipment oversight.
“It’s good for the club. It’s good for Albuquerque,” Sol coach Justin Sells said. “I think things are going in the right direction.”
FC Tucson struck first in the sixth minute after Sol goalie Casey Gasson stopped two shots but spilled rebounds into dangerous areas. Adeola Oke thundered in a third chance. The Sol answered five minutes later, when midfielder Quinn Fahling made a nifty run in the left channel to free himself for a cross that Lawrence nodded in at the back post.
“We scored some good goals but we gave up some easy goals,” Sells said. “All the guys played hard.”
Fahling gave the Sol a lead in the 24th, after a fortuitous deflection found his feet near the edge of the penalty area. Fahling picked out the far corner for a well-placed finish. But FC Tucson equalized amid a scrum in front of the Sol net in the 33rd minute.
Jason Velazquez restored the Sol lead in the 37th the first to read and react to a Thomas Mickoski cross slipping between Tucson defenders with a powerful header.
FC Tucson tied the match a final time in the 66th minute.
Sol hopes of a late winner were diminished after Davila was sent off in the 80th minute for his second caution, forcing the Sol to play the final minutes with 10.
The Sol concludes its 2018 season Saturday when it faces Ogden City SC at the UNM soccer complex at 7:30 p.m.
NOTES: Ex-Lobo Luke Lawrence was named to the PDL Team of the Week for Week 9. He had four goals in two games for the Sol vs. Colorado.