Prior to Sunday’s kickoff Tulsa Athletic had gone all of 2019 without losing a single league match. The 1st team topped the NPSL Heartland conference with an unbeaten 7-0-3 record and TA20 entered into the final match of 2019 sitting at 6-0-2 in the UPSL Red River conference respectively.
“When it was brought to my attention, it was definitely a ‘knock on wood’ moment” said Tulsa owner Sonny Dalesandro.
“It’s a really remarkable stat. The staff, players, and fans deserve a ton of credit for it. That said, we’ve always been a ‘who’s next?’ type of club. Looking backwards is a dangerous thing in sport”
Tyler came in as the highest scoring team in the Red River conference and in the 1st minute they found themselves off to a dream start. A blocked clearance saw the ball carom fortuitously off of the back of Tyler’s José Barron and into an empty net. It was an early sign of what was to come. The MVP on Sunday may very well have been the wind. It limited both sides to playing a scrappy brand of soccer that wasn’t at all indicative of what either team was capable of doing. Other than a few TA20 shouts for penalty kicks, the half was mostly ugly and uneventful.
The game was an absolute ‘must win’ for both sides and the second half become not only ugly, but ugly and chippy. Tackles, fouls and time wasting dominated the second half. Elvis Barkley of all people saw his effort go keeper-post-keeper. Tulsa looked the more likely team to score. In the 71st minute, Jack Bratcher played an inch perfect cross into the box that Young Athletic forward Keith Peterson rose beautifully to meet. The un-savable header knotted the teams at 1-1 and brought Peterson’s goal tally to 6 on the season. The initial response from TA20 was excellent as the pressure increased and Tyler was struggling to cope. Then it was again a comedy of errors which allowed Tyler to square a ball across the TA20 box. Cole Sandburg atoned for his earlier mishap by pulling off a world class initial save, only to see the ball fall to the feet of 2nd half sub Juan Cerda for an easy tap in. At 2-1 Tulsa pressed but weren’t able to break down the stout Tyler FC Kings defense. And so...on the last league gameday of the year 2019...the remarkable streak ended.
A massive three points head the way of Tyler, who with a game in hand, can close the gap to a narrow one point TA20 lead. To compound matters, FF Premier also we’re victorious 5-1 over struggling Dallas City FC. That victory means they’re presently in second place 3 points behind Tulsa. Tulsa head into the winter break with a slim lead at the top of the Red River table and have a colossal next league match in Dallas at second place FF Premier.
A cup match of considerably less pressure is set to take place on 12/22 as TA20 plays Tulsa Athletic in the first annual Tulsa Athletic Christmas Cup. Rosters to be announced in the following week. Entry, as always, is free. What a way to usher in the the holidays!
TFC- Barron ‘1
TA20- Peterson(6) (Bratcher) ‘71
TFC- Cerda ‘73