WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County High School Huskies (6-5-1) pulled off the upset over their conference foes, the Wilkes Central Eagles (5-2-3), getting the 3-1 win at home on Sept. 19. While their records weren’t that far apart at 4-5-1 and 5-1-3, the Eagles had better results against opponents both teams had faced, Hibriten and North Iredell.
Huskies head coach Sam Piercy admitted after the game that they felt like underdogs, but that it wasn’t going to stop his boys.
“Wilkes Central, they’re a conference favorite, and we knew that before the game,” Piercy said. “We also knew that we could beat them and if we played like we knew we could we’d have a good chance of doing that. This is a big win for us, and it’s a good win to have.”
For the first half-hour of the game, the teams kept each other at bay, with the Huskies playing a stout defense anchored by midfielder Carson Keys. The breakthrough moment would come in the 31st minute, when Issac Miller tapped the ball into the Eagles’ goal from only a foot out, giving the Huskies a 1-0 lead.
Controversy would ensue only three minutes later, when Huskies forward Max Pacheco collided with Eagles goalkeeper Kyle Barger in the box. Barger, who was on the ground to collect the ball, was caught in the leg by Pacheco’s cleat, who was sliding for the ball himself. Wilkes Central head coach Jim Caudill ran to his injured player when play was stopped, before he began yelling at the referee about Pacheco not getting a red card. While the official was explaining why no card was given, Pacheco walked over to check on Barger before being loudly shooed away by Caudill, which the home crowd did not respond well to.
The Eagles’ only chance of the first half came with four minutes left, when Antonio Garcia saw his shot get tipped by Huskies goalkeeper Matt Potter into the crossbar. Thanks to their defensive exploits, the Huskies kept their 1-0 lead into the half.
Four minutes into the second, Eagles forward Brandon Lopez placed the ball inches out of Potter’s reach, equalizing at 1-1. The tie wouldn’t last for long, when Trent Baker picked up a loose ball near the goal before firing it in to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead in the 44th.
The nail in the coffin came with only three minutes left. Huskies midfielder Justin Lopez charged down the left side of the field with the ball before whipping it in. Forward Chris Luna back-heeled it just over the Eagles’ keeper’s head for a spectacular goal to give the Huskies the 3-1 win.
The Huskies’ next game will be against the West Wilkes Blackhawks (1-8) on Sept. 26, while the Eagles will face off against the Starmount Rams (5-6) on the same day.