LEXINGTON, N.C. — Even without two starters, the Ashe County soccer team was up to the task of pulling off a playoff victory on the road.
The Huskies traveled to Lexington High School and came back with a 3-2 win over the Yellow Jackets.
Both teams came out with a strong first 10 minutes of play that included a goal from each team. Lexington got on the board in the second minute with a shot from senior Arun Rajan.
Ashe was able to answer back in the 10th minute with a goal from junior Rolando Olvera.
Four minutes later, the Huskies took the lead on a shot from senior Omar Reyes. Reyes started in place of Erick Barcenas, one of two Ashe players who missed the match after being suspended following the altercation during the East Wilkes match.
Lexington’s next scoring chance came in the 29th minute off of a corner kick, but the Husky defense was able to clear the ball out of the scoring box without a shot.
On the counter attack, Kendall Wagner had a shot on goal stopped by goalkeeper Nate Censi. A minute later, Censi collided with Reyes on an Ashe scoring attempt and was knocked out of the game.
The Yellow Jackets pushed up field for the final six minutes and came away with the tying goal in the 34th minute. Randy Rodriguez was taken down in the scoring box by Chance Hutchens, earning a penalty kick chance. Sophomore Preston Shoaf buried the kick in the bottom left corner of the net to knot things up at 2-2.
Reyes was able to get one scoring chance on the new goalie, sophomore Juan Velasco, but the young keeper was up to the challenge and stopped the shot, leaving the game tied at the half.
Lexington opened the second half and almost found the equalizer in the second minute of play, but the header attempt off of a corner kick hit the bar and was kicked out of bounds by the Huskies.
Ashe scored in the 48th minute to jump ahead, 3-2. Victor Melo fired a laser from about 15 yards out that Velasco had no chance of stopping.
Holding on to the slim lead, it would be up to the Husky defense the rest of the way, and they were more than ready to shine.
Sophomore goalkeeper Daniel Lipscomb made a diving save in the 67th minute and another nice save in the 70th minute.
Ashe took advantage of wide open space in the midfield and even had a couple shots on goal from Josh Brettschneider in the 71st minute and Wagner in the 77th minute.
The Huskies kept Lexington from getting a single shot on goal in the last five minutes of the match to secure the win.
Ashe improved to 15-6-1 overall while Lexington saw its season come to an end with an overall record of 10-11-3.
Ashe will play the winner of Thursday night’s match between top seed Salisbury (21-0-2) and 32-seed East Lincoln (6-13-4) on Saturday. The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday night but was postponed to Thursday due to the weather.
According to Ashe County head coach Wes Rousseau, the Huskies will still be without Barcenas and Dylan Little. Both will be serving the final game of their four-game suspensions.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87