Sol Da­mas form solid nu­cleus on rough soc­cer field

Men don’t have call­back on Sun­day af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing Satur­day

Albuquerque Journal - - SPORTS - BY NOAH SELIGMAN

Soc­cer play­ers try­ing out for the Al­bu­querque Sol were start­ing from the ground up, which proved chal­leng­ing given the rough field con­di­tions at Bal­loon Fi­esta Park this week­end.

This soc­cer field is a park­ing lot dur­ing Oc­to­ber for Bal­loon Fi­esta.

The field was more dry, yel­low straw than grass, and the patchy sur­face played to mixed re­sults.

The ex­pan­sion Al­bu­querque Sol Da­mas, a women’s team, un­earthed a solid nu­cleus over a two-day try­out. But the Sol scrapped the Sun­day men’s call­back af­ter a dis­ap­point­ing Satur­day.

“We had a lot of play­ers; the quan­tity was good, the qual­ity wasn’t as good as it was last year,” Sol tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Justin Sells said. “I still think there are 10-15 guys who can add to the group.”

The Sol may sched­ule an­other men’s try­out ses­sion with more no­tice con­cur­rent with col­lege spring break.

“I just wasn’t re­ally happy with the ac­tual tech­ni­cal abil­ity,” Sol pres­i­dent Larry Espinoza said. “Tech­ni­cally it wasn’t what we were look­ing for.”

Sev­eral Sol alums were un­avail­able, given their com­mit­ments to the New Mex­ico Run­ners and Santa Fe Elite in­door teams.

Sells is hop­ing to bring back “60 to 70 per­cent” of his play­ers from 2018. That squad posted a 4-6-4 record, its 16 points sec­ond-best in club his­tory.

“I’m not go­ing to change much, again have that lo­cal group,” Sells said. “I see the Sol as lo­cal; it should be based on the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

The Sol men will carry 22-26 play­ers on its ros­ter and dress 18 for games. The Sol Da­mas will be ros­ter­ing fewer play­ers given its shorter sea­son.

Sells is hop­ing to fi­nal­ize head coach­ing po­si­tions by March.

The club has talked to El­liot Prost about the Sol men. Prost is the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor for the North Den­ver Rush Soc­cer Club and played for the Sol in its third sea­son.

The Sol men will play the same level but re­la­beled as USL League 2. They’ll play 12 (in­stead of 14) games in a smaller Moun­tain Di­vi­sion against two Utah clubs, Og­den City FC and Park City FC, and the Colorado Pride Switch­backs.

“From a bud­get stand­point it makes it a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult be­cause we have to travel Utah twice,” Espinoza said. “The league has as­sured us they are work­ing on bol­ster­ing the Moun­tain Di­vi­sion.”

The Sol are ex­plor­ing new home venues in­clud­ing San­dia Prep or Milne Sta­dium.

The Sol Da­mas will play in the Women’s Premier Soc­cer League. The Da­mas will play an eight-game reg­u­lar sea­son against teams from Ari­zona and Nevada. The top two teams in the di­vi­sion will ad­vance to a re­gional play­off.

“The women over­all was good qual­ity, a good con­tin­gent of for­mer Lo­bos,” Sells said. “We can put to­gether a good women’s team.”

Sol as­so­ciate tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Dave Sul­li­van said the try­outs tested men­tal and phys­i­cal fit­ness engi­neer­ing drills to stress de­ci­sion mak­ing on the ball.

“Our core is go­ing to be strong,” Sul­li­van said. “We’re go­ing to have a lot of dan­ger­ous play­ers on the field and if we play up to our po­ten­tial, we can make some noise.”

Vol­cano Vista grad­u­ate Claire Lynch played at UNM from 2014-2017.

“I’ve been pleas­antly sur­prised with the tal­ent I’ve seen,” Lynch said. “This is an awe­some op­por­tu­nity to play for a team in New Mex­ico.”

The diminu­tive and dy­namic Lynch fig­ures to be an im­por­tant at­tack­ing force for the Sol. She noted the value this new team will have for col­lege play­ers.

“When I played col­lege soc­cer, girls went out of state,” Lynch said. “The girls that had these kinds of op­por­tu­ni­ties, they came back a lit­tle more pre­cise, got their touch back sooner than I did.”

An­other ex-Lobo and Vol­cano Vista alum. Alyssa Goss (for­merly Coon­rod) is grate­ful the Sol will keep her con­nected to soc­cer.

“It’s so fun to re­live the glory days, soc­cer is such a fun sport that never re­ally left me,” Goss said. “It’s good for the com­mu­nity and good to rep­re­sent Al­bu­querque.”

The Sol Da­mas will train a lo­cal group a cou­ple times a week in March, adding col­lege play­ers in May.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

Alyssa Goss, right, a Univer­sity of New Mex­ico alumna, at­tempts to move past a de­fender dur­ing a try­out for the Al­bu­querque Sol Da­mas at Bal­loon Fi­esta Park.

ADOLPHE PIERRE-LOUIS/JOUR­NAL

Claire Lynch, who played for Vol­cano Vista and UNM, said the Sol Da­mas is “an awe­some op­por­tu­nity to play for a team in New Mex­ico.”

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