WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Huskies will have to settle for a split with Watauga this season. The Pioneers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Huskies on Thursday night.
Earlier in the season, Ashe traveled to Boone and beat the Pioneers, 2-1, in the season opener.
The Pioneers got a goal in the fourth minute from Talib Patrick and then again in the fifth minute from Sam Gagnon to take a quick 2-0 lead.
“Our game this week (against Mitchell) and the practices we had leading up to this one did not do a very good job of preparing us for the speed of this game,” said Ashe County head coach Wes Rousseau. “We were definitely surprised by their speed in the first 10 minutes. Once we got our feet underneath us, we started to fight back into the game.”
Ashe settled in and started playing some better soccer to close the first half. When it looked like the Pioneers were going to keep Ashe off the scoreboard for the first 40 minutes, Alec Roland changed all of that with a shot that got by Watauga Holden Hartzog with just six seconds left to play in the first half.
In the second half, Roland nearly got the tying score just six minutes into the half but a nice save by Hartzog kept the Pioneers in front.
Watauga added its third goal on a penalty kick from Patrick after the Huskies were called for a hand ball in the box when it appeared the ball hit a Husky player that was going to the ground. The Pioneers took a 3-1 lead with still 30 minutes left to play in the game.
Ashe kept the offensive pressure going, earning a corner kick in the 53rd minute. While Ashe came up empty on that attempt, it would be Caleb Key three minutes later that fired a shot that bounced by the Watauga keeper for a goal.
The Huskies kept scrambling hard to find that equalizing goal. Justin Lopez had a shot that sailed high of the crossbar in the 65th minute. Josh Brettschneider was wide left on a shot attempt in the 72nd minute and the final scoring chance came from Daniel Lipscomb in the 78th minute, but his shot was stopped, preserving the win for the Pioneers.
“We definitely had some opportunities to equalize later in the game. I’m very proud of how the guys fought back. It was just an unlucky break tonight to not be able to find that equalizing goal,” Rousseau said.
Ashe fell to 3-3 overall.
The Huskies will open up conference play at home against Alleghany on Monday before heading to Elkin on Wednesday and finishing up the week with a non-conference home match against Surry Central on Thursday.
Earlier in the week on Wednesday, Ashe easily handled Mitchell County on the road by a 9-0 score.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.