WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County held off a late charge by Wilkes Central to pick up a much-needed conference victory on Wednesday night.
After a 6-2 loss at first-place Starmount on Monday to lose their first conference match of the year, the Huskies had a tough opponent again on Wednesday and really needed a win.
“I was just really proud of how we responded after the loss that we took on Monday. We knew coming in, to have a reasonable shot at contending for conference, this was a win we had to have,” said Ashe County head coach Wes Rousseau.
The game was a back-and-forth battle through most of the first half with both teams trying to feel out their opponents early.
Ashe found two goals in the final 11 minutes of play, both coming off the foot of Caleb Key. Key scored in the 29th minute and then added a penalty kick goal in the 31st minute to take a 2-0 lead over the Eagles.
The score would remain the same until eight minutes into the second half when Wilkes Central cut its deficit in half with a goal from Kevin Moreno.
In the 56th minute, Ashe had a nice opportunity to push the lead back to two goals on a corner kick, but the Eagle defense was able to clear the ball away without a shot on goal.
On the counter attack, the Eagles sprinted down the sideline and fired a shot at the far post, but Ashe County keeper Noah Blevins was able to play the ball off of a hop to make the save and keep the Huskies in front.
In the 63rd minute, Ashe’s Justin Lopez came through with a great shot on goal that was perfectly placed over the Eagle keeper’s head to give the Huskies a 3-1 advantage.
The score would change again nine minutes later when Moreno fired a shot that found the back of the net for his second goal of the contest.
With eight minutes left, the Ashe defense was able to come through with some important clear aways and a couple more stops from Blevins to secure the 3-2 victory.
“I thought that we possessed the ball relatively well in the first half, and even though we had a little bit of a letdown in the second half, we did enough to come away with a victory over a pretty good team,” said Rousseau.
Ashe is now 6-6 overall and 3-1 in the MVAC. Wilkes Central dropped to 6-3-1 overall and 2-2 in the MVAC.
The Huskies will take on East Wilkes at home (Monday) and go to North Wilkes on Wednesday.
*As of Sept. 22
1. Starmount: 9-2, 4-0
2. Ashe County: 6-6, 3-1
3. Wilkes Central: 6-3-1, 2-2
4. Elkin: 3-10, 2-2
5. West Wilkes: 2-7, 2-2
6. East Wilkes: 3-7, 1-2
7. North Wilkes: 2-9, 1-3
8. Alleghany: 0-5, 0-3
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.