WEST JEFFERSON — Starmount picked up a pair of second-half goals and kept Ashe off the scoreboard to earn a 2-0 win over the Huskies on Thursday night.
Barring a major setback for the Rams in the final few matches of the regular season, this victory will clinch the 2016 Mountain Valley Athletic Conference championship. Starmount’s next goal will be to finish the MVAC slate of matches unbeaten.
Both teams started the contest with corner kick chances in the first 10 minutes of the match. Neither team found any luck off of those opportunities.
The rest of the half was a lot of possession play for both teams with just a select few scoring chances the rest of the way.
The Rams’ best chance came in the 31st minute, but a terrific diving save by Noah Blevins punched the ball out of harm’s way.
Starmount added another corner kick chance in the 38th minute, but came up empty once again.
The second half started with a great scoring chance for Ashe’s Alec Roland, but his shot was stopped by Starmount’s Hunter Johnson.
Ashe attempted another corner kick in the 52nd minute, but the Ram defense was able to clear the ball away without a shot.
The first goal of the match finally happened in the 55th minute. Striker Jeyson Pineda played a perfect shot off his foot in the air that beat Blevins for a 1-0 lead.
Eight minutes later, the Huskies should have had the equalizer if not for a great save by Johnson. Roland got in behind the defense and fired a shot that was knocked away at the last second. Justin Lopez followed up with a rebound try, but it was just wide right of the net.
With five minutes left, the Rams added a second goal, this one off the foot of Victor Maya. His shot from well outside the scoring box slipped through the hands of Ashe’s keeper and into the back of the net.
The Rams now sit at 14-2 overall and 9-0 in conference play. The Huskies dropped to 12-7 overall and 8-2 in conference play.
If there was ever a match that truly showed the heart and passion of a soccer team, it was certainly this one for the Huskies. It was an extremely emotional week for a lot of the players. Former teammate Erick Barcenas was involved in a car accident that killed former Husky football player Luis Ramos. Barcenas is fighting for his life in intensive care. Ramos was also the brother of former soccer standout Miguel Ramos.
“With the overwhelming emotions that we have had to deal with as a team and as a school this week, I couldn’t be prouder of the effort and intensity that we showed tonight,” said Ashe County head coach Wes Rousseau. “When you deal with situations like we’ve dealt with as a team and student body this week, it helps to put things into perspective. You realize the things that you think are the most important things in this world simply aren’t. Tonight, we were able to put the hurt away and play a game that we love with people that we love and at the end of the day, regardless of what it says on the scoreboard, I feel like there’s no way you can classify that experience as anything less than a win.”
As for Starmount, it deserves a ton of credit as well for how well the team played in this match and its stellar play throughout the season.
“Sometimes you simply get beat by the better team and Starmount was the better team tonight and they deserve to be conference champions this year,” said Rousseau. “But my guys showed a great amount of heart and fire tonight and I’m very proud of them.”
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.