WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Huskies (3-3) battled through the cold and wind to beat the Avery Vikings (0-4) 4-0 at home Monday, March 18. The Huskies won 4-1 in the previous meeting on March 1.
From the start of warmups it was obvious that the wind would be the biggest factor in the game. Between the wind chill dropping the temperature below 30 degrees and strong winds affecting the roll and flight path of the ball, the teams were often more playing against the weather than each other.
Another factor for the Huskies was the loss of senior forward Haley Miller, who exited the team’s March 13 game against Wilkes Central with concussion-like symptoms. In her place was junior Julia Bassett, replacing Miller’s speed with strength.
As both teams got into rhythm and settled into their styles, Ashe was the first to start attacking with intent. The Huskies, through sophomore Jernee Ashley and senior Sam Woods, had a handful of chances in the first 10 minutes of the game, but Vikings junior Hannah Ruth Crosby tended to the goal and didn’t allow any threat to be serious. While the Vikings’ defense stood strong, their offense struggled to get anything going. A strong tailwind made playing through passes nigh impossible, blowing the ball too far forward and into the hands of Huskies keeper Sophia Kiser’s hands.
In the final two minutes of the half, both teams came agonizingly close to breaking the deadlock. Ashe’s came first, when Woods came beat her defenders to face Crosby head-on, but Crosby kept her hands up and denied the shot. With less than a minute left, Avery found their first real chance of the game with a corner kick from the left side. A Huskies defender managed to get in the way, knocking the ball away before time ran down on the still-deadlocked half.
As the second half started, the wind still batted both sides, but had now shifted to going across the field. Playing with more urgency, the Huskies played through balls with the right touch and started creating chances early and often. Ashe’s Katie Woods thought she was had a one-on-one chance with Crosby midway through the half, only for the ball to be pipped from behind her by Avery senior Regan McKinney, as the Vikings defense began to tighten up.
After 64 minutes, the scoring began. Sam Woods carved through the Vikings’ back line, nutmegging her defender before slipping it past Crosby for a 1-0 lead. She bagged her brace only three minutes later, with another shot from point-blank range for the 2-0 lead.
After the pair of scores from Sam Woods, the Huskies kept the momentum going, barely allowing Avery to get within striking distance of answering. In the 75th minute, Ashley grew the lead with a shot from within the box. Katie Woods completed the rout with another goal with just over two minutes remaining.
The Huskies’ next game is against the East Wilkes Cardinals (4-2) at home Tuesday, March 19, while the Vikings now look to face the Draughn Wildcats (2-2-3) at home Wednesday, March 20