In their final game of the regular season, the Colorado Rapids U-23 team salvaged a point in dramatic fashion against FC Tucson to secure the Mountain Division title and a spot in the 2018 PDL Playoffs.
FC Tucson opened scoring in the ninth minute after Adeola Oke ripped in a right-footed striker from outside the 18-yard-box. His goal would be the only one to make the scoresheet in regular time.
The game then seemed to be put to bed in the 92nd minute when FC Tucson' Dalton Pando broke away from the Rapids backline and tucked in a goal to double lead. However, with little time remaining in stoppage-time, Rapids' Matt Hundley opened a window for the home side with a moment of brilliance. The talented striker sent a left-footed rocket soaring past Briley Guarnari from 35-yards-out to give the Rapids a glimmer of hope.
Erik Bushey's men were not ready to go quietly and the Rapids bench exploded as Ken Akamatsu equalized for the home side at the death in the 96th minute as he dribbled through the Tucson backline and slotted home his first goal of the season.
“Winning the division was great for the boys," head coach Erik Bushey said. "The manner in which we did it will last in their memories (as well as my own) for quite some time. We needed a win or draw in our last match to be crowned division champions. It was great to see the boys celebrate. With all the work the team has put forth, a short season at times has seemed long. We are grateful it is not over yet though."
The Rapids U-23s finished top of the Mountain Division with 28 points, good enough for third overall in the Western Conference. The U-23s will meet Calgary Foothills FC in the semifinal of the Premier Development League Playoffs in California on Friday, July 20. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 PM.