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Sol survivors: FC Tucson draws in Duke City

Heredia snatches 2 in wild 6-goal match

FC Tucson started their final road trip of the season in Albuquerque on Saturday night. The southwestern rivals played to a raucous tie that featured six goals and two ejections.

"We wanted to be real aggressive," said coach Dave Cosgrove after the match. "We wanted to put our front foot in. We did, but after that it didn't go quite as scripted."

The opening minutes of the match featured chances from FC Tucson, culminating with a goal from Adeola Oke. It was the first goal of the season for the one-time player for Atlanta United's academy team.  Albuquerque responded with goals from Luke Lawrence and Quinn Fahling.

It fell to a former Pima Aztec to bring the team level again. "Fell" was the operative word as Dalton Pando slipped on the turf and the ball headed in Angel Heredia's direction. Heredia got a foot on the ball as he slipped to the ground. The play won't make any highlight reels, but it put FC Tucson even at 2-2.

Albuquerque's Jason Velazquez again put his team on top with a goal scored off of a 38th minute corner kick. FC Tucson went into the locker room down 3-2.

FC Tucson had the better of the play in the second half, but failed to score until Albuquerque goalkeeper Casey Gasson had a collision with Oke in minute 65. Heredia took the penalty kick and evened up the score.

The last portion of the match was a familiar scene for those that saw the two teams playing on Tuesday night: an increasingly chippy contest between two desperate rivals. A 75th-minute shot from Oke went off the crossbar and a nice run by Albuquerque's Fahling ended with a smart intervention by center back Henry Lander.

Sol midfielder Edgar Davila took down Oke near the half line and earned himself a yellow card in minute 80. Davila had already been given a yellow for one of several instances where he argued with the referee. FC Tucson would be facing 10 men for the remainder of the match.

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FC Tucson took quick advantage of the free kick to quickly get the ball into the box. Henry Lander came forward and slammed into keeper Gasson, sending both players to the ground. The ball spilled out for a subsequent shot by FC Tucson but it was saved off the line by Charles Touché.

Replacement Sol keeper Eric Estrada was able to keep the game level despite two strong chances from AJ Valenzuela. The home side suffered another reversal when goal scorer Lawrence had to leave the match in minute 89 with an injury. Lander and Fahling had another clash in stoppage time, with the Tucson center back again getting the advantage over the feisty redhead.

Another run from Fahling ended with an unfortunate tackle from Tucson's Kyle Van Alstine that got him ejected from the match. Albuquerque would be level in theory, but Fahling remained off the field getting treatment for the remainder of stoppage time.

A final try from FC Tucson was smothered from Estrada; a final shot from Albuquerque's Noe Meza went wide. The whistle blew with the match ending in a 3-3 draw.

The draw put the regular season record for FC Tucson against Albuquerque at a win, loss and two draws. This put the coveted "Golden Rattler" trophy in the hands of the Sol for the first time since the rivalry was established in 2014. With FC Tucson moving to the new third-tier pro division next year, this may be the last year the rivalry match is played.

Words from Cosgrove

FC Tucson has three matches left in the season. With the one point earned on Saturday night, the team needs to win two of their remaining matches to have a chance at a playoff spot. Coach Dave Cosgrove says that the team will be staying in Albuquerque to train before facing off with the Colorado Rapids U23 squad on Wednesday.

Although he felt that FC Tucson executed their game better that Albuquerque, at least in the second half, the team was still unable to really dominate the match.

"It kind of sums up our whole season: lost opportunities when we do some really good things we just do enough bad things so we just can't get on top," he said. "We'd have our playoff spot already if we won a few of those games that were ties."

"We could have easily won (tonight) 4 - 3," he added.

As for individual performances, Cosgrove named centerbacks James McGhee and Henry Lander as standouts along with Angel Heredia and Adeola Oke, a player that hasn't seen a lot of time on the field.

"He was effective," he said. "He drew the penalty kick; he got an assist on one goal. Considering everything, he put in a really good shift for us tonight."

Ginger Snaps

Quinn Fahling hasn't scored a lot of goals for Albuquerque or in his time at Seattle University either, but the forward has been a bête noire for FC Tucson this season, notching a goal and three assists against the team just this week. He was a constant threat, remarked Cosgrove.

"He killed us tonight," he said. "He drew the red card on Kyle (Van Alstine). He's had a career against us in four games. If he got paid by performance and he played FC Tucson every week, he'd be a millionaire because he gets goals and assists every time he plays us."

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FC Tucson

The Golden Rattler trophy that goes to the winner of the annual FC Tucson - Albuquerque Sol FC series.