WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Huskies boys’ soccer team (12-9, 11-3 MVAC) fell in an extra-time spectacle against the Starmount Rams (15-5-2, 14-0 MVAC) on Senior Night at home Tuesday, Oct. 29.
The game was originally scheduled for Oct. 30, but the fear of bad weather caused the game to be moved up. Due to the short notice scheduling change, the Huskies were without captain Justin Lopez, who was out of town.
From the outset, it was obvious the two foes were the top-two teams in the Mountain Valley Athletic Conference. Huskies center back Cristian Ramos nearly opened the scoring with a free kick from range in the fifth minute, but it was tipped by Rams keeper Gregory Tulbert just enough to slam into the crossbar.
Neither team looked ready to back down, playing an evenly matched game of constant threats and solid defense. The Rams managed to break through in the 28th minute, when a deep free kick from Diego Zuniga scraped its way into the Ashe net, for a 1-0 Starmount lead. Two minutes later, Huskies senior Trent Baker received a yellow card after a collision with a Starmount defender.
The 37th minute saw Ashe even it up. Dylan Short fired a shot from the edge of the box, only for it to be deflected to Alex Luna. Luna stopped it with one touch, and scored with his second, evening the score line at 1-1. The tie would remain for the next three minutes, leaving it even at the half.
The Huskies came out firing in the second half, attacking the Rams’ back line with the momentum of the most recent goal. Going for blood, Ashe peppered the Starmount goal with shots, while the defense held firm to slowly wane off any threat from the Rams. Their momentum stalled in the 59th minute, when Ramos went down after a collision. Play was stopped while he was on the pitch, but he was able to walk off under his own power.
With less than 10 minutes left and still tied at 1-1, the game flipped to the Rams’ favor. Ashe was no longer getting as many good looks on goal, while the Rams were whittling their way through the Huskies’ defense. With seven minutes left, Chris Luna saw yellow after trying to get around a Rams defender too aggressively, before the clock ran out and the game headed to extra time.
Four minutes into extra time, Ramos received a yellow card after hip checking a Starmount player. Both teams tried frantically to get the game-winner, but the halfway point of extra time rolled in with the game still tied. With only 35 seconds left before the teams would go to a penalty shootout, Starmount’s Leo Najera fired the ball into the Huskies’ box, which found the right bounce and rolled into the net for the game’s dagger.
The Huskies went on to close out their regular season with a loss on the road to North Wilkes (13-8-1, 7-7 MVAC), and now prepare for a playoff match-up with the Carver Yellowjackets (8-8-1, 7-7 WPAC) Wednesday, Nov. 6.