WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Huskies boys’ soccer team (12-10, 11-3 MVAC) saw their season end in a 2-1 playoff upset Wednesday, Nov. 6 at home against the Carver Yellowjackets (9-9-1, 7-7 WPAC) in the first round of the NCHSAA 2A playoffs.
The seventh-seeded Huskies went into the game on the back of a two-game losing streak, but were looking to start over now that the playoffs began. The 26th-seeded Yellowjackets finished their season with six wins in their final 10 games.
Both teams did not only have their opponent on the field, but a common one all around it. Temperatures in the low 30s meant players were not just running for the ball, but also for warmth.
From the start of the game, it did not look like a David versus Goliath matchup the seedings described. The opponents went back-and-forth, with neither giving an inch defensively. The Huskies had a few chances scattered through the half, but could not finish with goals. Carver struggled to get the ball upfield before Huskies like Shawn Bast and Christian Ramos stifled the chances. With no team able to grab an edge, the game was scoreless at the half.
After 70 minutes of play, the scoreless match seemed ready for overtime and potentially a penalty shootout. With just over five minutes left in regulation, Carver struck first when Huskies keeper Isaac Miller was chipped after rushing out for the ball. Down 1-0, the Huskies went on the attack to grab an equalizer.
They countered with 1:16 left in the game, as senior Justin Lopez struck a powerful ball past the Carver keeper from range. The goal gave the team a newfound confidence, momentum and a riled-up home crowd itching for the winner.
Only 15 seconds after the equalizer, Carver answered with their second goal. A well-struck effort to the top-left corner beyond Miller’s reach, the final nail had been driven in. With no time left, Ashe lost what had become the final game of their season.
After the game, head coach Paul Winterton told his players they had so much to be proud of with their season. He said there’s nothing else to do, but take some time off and get ready for next year.