WEST JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Huskies (5-3) cruised to a 6-2 home win over the visiting East Wilkes Cardinals (4-4) Tuesday, March 19 thanks to a stellar day from Huskies sophomore Jernee Ashley, who bagged a brace and two assists. The game was also the first game feature for the Huskies that was not affected by freezing temperatures and high winds.
The opening minutes of the game was a blur for the Cardinals’ defense, as they were knocked around and carved up by the Huskies’ precision attacks. Only a minute-and-a-half into the game, Ashe struck when Ashley sent the ball into the box with a low cross. She connected with sophomore Claudia Acevedo who tapped it in for the 1-0 lead. In the fourth minute, Ashley picked up her first goal of the game in stunning fashion, curling a corner kick from the right side into the upper corner of the goal.
The Huskies’ lead grew to a trio of goals two minutes later, when freshman Katie Woods knocked it past the East Wilkes goalie from close range. The goal glut continued in the 18th minute, when a free kick into the box bounced around between both sides. The ball made its way to senior midfielder Sam Woods, who popped into the back of the net for a 4-0 Huskies lead.
Down but undeterred, the Cardinals kept grasping at chances, but struggled to get past the midfield and a Huskies defense led by junior Gracie Fairchild. They finally broke through in the 22nd minute, when a crisp cross found its way to Cardinals senior Sheila Aguilar, who gave her team some hope with the now 4-1 scoreline. Fifteen minutes after, Sam Woods snuffed out the excitement with another goal from close range, sending the game into the half at 5-1.
Both teams managed to score in the first six minutes of the second half. Ashe struck first when Ashley fired in a shot coming off of a low cross from Katie Woods for the 6-1 lead. The Cardinals answered back two minutes later when Huskies keeper Sophia Kiser found herself in a two-on-one situation against Aguilar and fellow senior Ciara Pierce. Pierce took advantage and drove it home to cut the deficit to four goals.
The rest of the game was marred by fouls from East Wilkes, with players and parents frequently letting the referees know they disagreed. It came to a head when a Cardinals player was issued a red card after a disputable foul on Ashley.
East Wilkes head coach Rodney Wagoner, who had already been issued a yellow card after yelling at the refs, pulled his team off the pitch in protest. The game was ended suddenly with 11 minutes still on the clock.
After the game, multiple Ashe players were confused and concerned about how the game would be listed. The first tie-breaker is goal difference, and potentially giving up a plus-four differential could come back to haunt the Huskies. Ultimately, the game’s final score was listed as it was when Wagoner pulled the team.
Huskies head coach Paul Winterton was shocked by the turn of events.
“I’ve never seen that before,” Winterton said before the game listing was decided. “I don’t know what will happen now, how the game will be put down. (Wagoner) didn’t agree with the calls, and I can understand that, but I’ve never seen a coach pull his team during the game before.”
Winterton added that despite the odd ending, he was happy with how his team played, especially in the first half. He said he would have liked to seen more from the team in the second, but the dominance in the first made it pretty negligible.
The Huskies’ followed up the win with an 8-1 road win over the North Wilkes Vikings (4-4) and will play the West Wilkes Blackhawks (1-5) Tuesday, March 26, while the Cardinals will play the Starmount Rams (6-1) the same night.