TAYLORSVILLE — Alexander Central rallied to score two goals in the final six minutes to defeat the Lady Huskies, 2-1.
The two teams played a scoreless first half, but each team had a pair of good scoring chances early on. Ashe County senior Valerie Keys nearly got the first goal of the year in the 21st minute but her shot was stopped by Cougar sophomore Jackie Little.
Two minutes later, Alexander Central had a corner kick opportunity but the shot landed squarely on the goal post and was cleared away by the Husky defense.
With nine minutes left in the first half, Ashe had its own corner kick opportunity. The kick was placed perfectly in front of the net but none of the Lady Husky forwards could get a foot on it.
The second half started with a pair of corner kicks for Alexander Central, neither of which resulted in a goal.
Ashe’s first scoring chance of the second half came five minutes in when Melissa Ramos was stopped on a breakaway.
The Lady Husky defense came up big in the 56th minute. After goaltender Jade Hannewald came out of the net to make a save, the rebound kicked away to a Cougar striker. With a wide open net, Emma Calloway was able to get a foot on the shot and get the ball out of harm’s way.
Four minutes later, Ramos put Ashe on the board with a shot off of a great pass from Keys.
Alexander Central amped up its offensive pressure and was able to tie the score in the 74th minute off of a shot from Jessica Glenn.
With two minutes left, a questionable foul was called on Ashe inside the scoring box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Cougars. Rachel Fox went low and to the left of Ashe’s goal keeper with the shot and put the Cougars in front, 2-1.
Nearing the end of regulation, it appeared the Lady Huskies had a breakaway opportunity for Ramos. However, the ref whistled the play dead after a brief shoving match well away from the ball resulted in a pair of red cards, one for each team. The free kick for Ashe was off target and Alexander Central was able to control the ball long enough for the final whistle to sound.
Ashe dropped to 0-1 on the year while Alexander Central (1-1-1) got its first win after a loss to South Caldwell and a tie with Watauga to open the season.
“Overall I was really pleased with how we played, especially for a season opener,” said Ashe County head coach Wes Rousseau. “We played with much more intensity and fluidity in our offensive game.”
Defensively, Ashe more than held its own against a solid 4A program.
“Bennett Watson did an outstanding job man-marking one of the most dangerous strikers in northwest North Carolina,” said Rousseau.
Ashe will play its first home match on Wednesday at home against Hibriten (3-0).
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87