In front of a raucous home crowd on a day filled with Independence Day festivities and trophy presentations, FC Tucson defeated Albuquerque Sol F.C. 2-1 in dramatic fashion on Monday night.
FC Tucson midfielder and captain Tate Schmitt drilled the game-winning goal on a stoppage-time penalty kick to secure the victory and give the 2,210 fans in attendance at Kino North Stadium something to cheer about.
The Men in Black clinched the Golden Rattler — the trophy given to the winner of the regular-season series between the two teams — in Saturday’s 2-2 road draw in Albuquerque.
FC Tucson (7-2-2) was awarded the trophy after Monday’s win.
Albuquerque Sol F.C. (2-6-2) got on the board first Monday on a finish from forward Sam Gleedle in the 25th minute.
Gleedle received a low cross inside the six-yard box and calmly slotted the opening goal past the outstretched arms of FC Tucson goalkeeper Lucas Vallilo.
The two teams matched up for the fourth time this season, with three of those matchups coming in the past 10 days, and tempers rose late in the first half.
FC Tucson midfielder Ozzie Ramos had his shoe come off after being fouled in stoppage time at the end of the first half.
That’s when play got crazy.
Ramos attempted to quickly play the ball without his shoe on and ended up kicking Albuquerque Sol F.C. midfielder Jack Clancy.
Ramos was given a yellow card for the kick and Clancy was given a yelllow for dissent, his second of the first half, which led to his ejection. Shortly after, Albuquerque midfielder Tommy Ramos was given a straight red card from the bench and was ejected.
In total, referees handed out six bookings in the first half, with FC Tucson receiving one yellow card and Albuquerque Sol F.C. receiving four yellow cards and one red card.
The second half featured plenty of scoring chances for FC Tucson, leading up to the critical equalizer from FC Tucson midfielder Moshe Perez in the 67th minute.
Perez received the ball off a deflection just outside the 18-yard box and sent a line-drive strike into the right side of goal past the outstretched arms of Albuquerque Sol F.C. goalkeeper Tyler Pavlet to tie the match at 1-1.
FC Tucson then numerous opportunities to take the lead before Schmitt sank the winning penalty kick.