In the midst of summer, current and former UNM soccer players could be found spending time together out in the Sol. The Albuquerque Sol, that is.
Five Lobo players and four former players spent their summer playing for Albuquerque’s newest team, the Albuquerque Sol FC. The Sol is part of the USL Premier Development League, the top-level men’s amateur soccer competition in the country.
The NCAA allows only five players from a single university program to play on the same summer team. This year the five players for UNM were sophomores Chris Gurule and Josh Goss, juniors Josh Dye and Adrian Mora and senior Nick Miele.
The former-Lobo players included Lawrence Robledo, Victor Rodriguez, Travis Campbell and James Urbany.
Head coach Chris Cartlidge is also part of the UNM soccer program, having worked as an assistant coach for six years.
The Sol made its debut on May 3 and played its last home game on Saturday.
The team will not advance to the playoffs, but did manage to earn third place in the Mountain Division.
Sol assistant coach Matt Gordon described UNM players as “real high-level players” who brought “fantastic chemistry” to the team.
Travis Campbell, who played for UNM from 2008 to 2012, said he was planning to hang up the boots in February, but Cartlidge asked him to come out and be a leader for the team.
Campbell said he has a lot of fun out on the field, but is hoping to be a coach next year.
“It’s probably a 50/50 chance,” he said. “I want to keep coaching for the rest of my life, so hopefully I can get in the coaching staff next year.”
Campbell said it was difficult at first for the team to find a rhythm, but they did eventually manage to unite.
Urbany agreed, and said the bigger roster made lineups and training sessions completely different from those at UNM. He described the team as a larger mix of players with equal amounts of talent.
Urbany recently graduated with his master’s in social work and said he will start working with the APS Title I Homeless Project in August.
Although he is starting a new chapter in his life, he says he will stay in shape if the Sol needs him next year.
Rodriguez said that at UNM there is always a winning mentality, and that same mentality was incorporated in the Sol program.
“We never gave up. No matter what the score is you are going to go at it 100 percent, and I think we did that,” he said. “I feel next year it’s going to be a lot better for the team.”
He said he hopes to go to Central America to continue his soccer career, but he’ll be here next season at least to enjoy the games.
As a goalie, Rodriguez had a couple of good saves during the team’s last home game against the BYU Cougars.
The Sol won the game 2-1, but the win was not the only reason the night was memorable.
The Sol paid tribute to former UNM player Pat Grange, who died of ALS in 2012. During halftime, the team retired the No. 4 jersey in honor of Grange.
Even after a 30-minute lightning delay, a record number of 1,528 fans showed up to support the team.
Isabel Gonzalez is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.