WEST JEFFERSON — Once the Watauga girls’ soccer team found its rhythm on offense, there wasn’t much Ashe County could do to stop the Pioneers.
Watauga rolled to a 9-0 victory at Ashe County on a chilly March 5 night at Ashe County’s soccer field. Watauga took a 5-0 lead and Emma Schneider scored the Pioneers’ ninth goal with 17:36 in the game. Since the Pioneers took a 9-0 lead, the game was ended because of the mercy rule.
“It’s always good to start that way,” Watauga coach Chris Tarnowski said. “Ashe County always plays us hard whenever we are over here and I think they are really used to their field, so it gives us a good opportunity to adapt and get out of our comfort zone a little bit. It’s always good to start the season with a win.”
Watauga (1-0) had several players score goals. Bailey Whitehead-Price scored two goals in the second half and her corner kicks put pressure on the Ashe County (0-2) goal several times in both halves.
Lily Brown got the Pioneers rolling by scoring the first goal of the game. Emma Schneider and Shaelyn Sheaff each scored two goals, while Maya Nelson and Andie Waugh scored single goals.
Watauga goalkeeper Magali Turner faced a few scoring threats from the Huskies, but Watauga’s offense kept the ball away from the Ashe offense by maintaining possession for much of the game.
Watauga also played without Brelyn Sturgill and Cora Lubsen. Both played on the Watauga girls’ basketball team and had not participated in enough preseason practices yet.
“They have a lot of chemistry,” Ashe coach Paul Winterton said. “Those girls have been playing together for a while and they know each other. We’re basically rebuilding. We put a lot of young players out there and we have to put that chemistry together.”
Ashe County keeper Sophia Kiser made some brilliant saves on Watauga shots, but the Pioneers kept up their attack on the Huskies’ defense.
Watauga had to replace several graduated defensive players from the 2019 season, but also returns several players on the offensive side of the field, according to Tarnowski.
“We’ve had to rebuild some areas, but we’ve also got some leaders,” Tarnowski said. “A lot of our young players are stepping up and have filled those roles admirably. I’m definitely looking forward to the mix of leadership and young talent.”