It was far from pretty, it was definitely chippy, but most importantly it was a win for the Albuquerque Sol.
The Sol defeated visiting FC Tucson 1-0 at St. Pius in front of 1,026 fans on a windy Saturday night.
“It’s a great feeling,” forward Luke Lawrence said. “We had not beaten them yet. It’s a great feeling to stay on top.”
Albuquerque (4-1-1) extended its lead in the Mountain Division of the Premier Development League over Tucson (2-1-2) with a determined defensive effort.
“It wasn’t pretty,” defender Travis Campbell said. “There was a little bit of luck. I truly believe that as hard as you work, a little bit of luck can come your way.”
In that type of game, the best luck can come off set pieces.
“Oftentimes set pieces are what define games,” Lawrence said. “That’s what happened and it paid off for us.”
The game’s goal was scored in the 31st minute. The Sol got a corner kick that Manuel Campos fed to the cluster of players in the goal box.
Lawrence broke free from his defender and headed the ball home.
“So basically Carlos (Sendin), our center back, we know every time he’s going to win the ball,” Lawrence said. “He’s great in the air. We went straight to the 6-yard box, he headed it across just like in practice and (I) hammered it away.”
Tucson’s best scoring chances came in the first half. Luis Martinez sent a curling shot toward the upper right corner of Albuquerque’s goal in the 11th minute but it failed to drop enough and ended up clearing the crossbar.
Shortly after Lawrence’s goal, Tucson got an even better shot from Pedro Espindola, who fired a blast to the upper center of the goal only to see Sol goalkeeper Lucas Champenois deflect it with the tips of his fingers.
In the second half, Tucson was not able to muster any real scoring chances.
“We’ve really been working on our defensive shape and our back-six shape,” Campbell said. “We’re believing in our system and kind of getting everyone to buy into that. I think the team’s catching wind of that.
“That first half, that was decent enough, I thought. Just shutting them down, it’s a pride thing. That comes from the heart.”
Lawrence and the other Sol forwards and midfielders had total confidence that the defenders behind them could make the 1-0 lead stand up.
“Our back line is so solid right now,” Lawrence said.
Back-to-back road games now loom for the Sol, which will face BYU on Thursday and Las Vegas on Saturday. The next game in Albuquerque will be against Laredo on June 18 at 6:30 p.m.
“I say it over and over again, this is a team every time we step on this field, no matter if someone played eight minutes or 90 minutes, it’s a full team effort,” Campbell said.