TUCSON -- With the final whistle moments away, FC Tucson defender-turned-forward Kyle VanAlstine smashed the final shot of the game past a helpless goalkeeper to help FC Tucson secure a dramatic 2-2 draw with Albuquerque Sol FC in front of a season-high 1,742 fans at Kino North Stadium.
“What a great culture they’ve created out here,” head coach Dave Cosgrove said of the crowd. “It’s really exciting to be a part of it and I think our kids really bought into that.”
With the club trailing 2-1, VanAlstine -- a defender who substituted into the game as a forward in the second half -- got in behind the Sol FC back line and buried the game-tying goal with a low blast at the death, lifting a raucous “3rd of July” crowd to its feet as he ripped his shirt off in celebration.
“It was only to tie the game up and equalize but it felt amazing,” VanAlstine said. “I’d been playing defender for a while and (coach) Cos, he switched me to defender so it’s just crazy that he trusted me to go play forward. He threw me up there and I lost when (after I scored). It was just the greatest feeling ever.”
FC Tucson was in control early in the game and surged to a 1-0 lead in the 56th minute when Gavino Carranza deftly maneuvered around the goalkeeper and hit his shot off the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal.
“It’s good. I don’t get to push up the field that much and putting us up in the second half was a good feeling,” Carranza said. “It brought a lot of momentum to the team and I think we were feeding off that.”
Carranza also found the back of the net in the first half but an offside flag negated the goal. Tucson created plenty more chances before Carranza finally opened in the scoring after halftime.
“In the first half, I thought we were really in control of the game,” Cosgrove said. “I thought for 70 minutes, we really did a good job tonight and deserved to be up 1-0.”
But Sol FC stormed back with a pair of goals two minutes apart in the 77th and 79th minutes to take a 2-1 lead before VanAlstine rescued a point with his late tally.
The draw keeps FC Tucson ahead of Albuquerque Sol FC and in second place in the PDL Mountain Division standings with 17 points. The club will finish the regular season with four straight away matches, starting this Saturday when it travels to Albuquerque to face Sol FC for the fourth and final time this year.