Asheville City opened the WPSL season with a 2-0 win over the Charlotte Independence in front of a sold out crowd Friday night.
To begin the game, both teams battled for control of the ball before the Blues took chances that fell just short of the back of the net.
First, in the eighth minute Mckenna Silber passed the ball to Sarah Jacobs whose attempt was recovered by the goalkeeper. Another chance in the 18th minute saw Molly Dwyer finding open space, but falling short due to an impressive save by the Independence goalkeeper.
A continuous battle for possession ensued for the remainder of the first half. An Independence chance caused some to hold their breath, but Michaela Moran did well to keep the game scoreless in a one-on-one save situation.
Just before the break, the Blues got the momentum they needed with a penalty kick chance earned and taken by Molly Dwyer. She received a bombing ball on the edge of the box, and baited the defender into a silly challenge as she entered the 18. The midfielder, who is also an UNCA Women’s Soccer Assistant Coach, buried the ball to the left of the keeper for the go-ahead goal.
The second half saw both sides exchange chances, but lack the finishing touch as the respective defensives continued to grow into the game. Molly Dwyer carried on to show confidence on the pitch with a pair of chances in short order that required an Independence save.
The packed stands at Greenwood Field had to wait until the 88th minute for another goal, this time Chloe McClearly-Small scoring the dagger thanks to an assist from Camryn Bolick. McClearly-Small found space along the left wing as she received the diagonal cross from Bolick, before baiting the keeper off her line and ripping the ball into the net.
The 2-1 result saw the Blues secure their first win of the campaign, and the first for Carolyn Wahaftig as Head Coach with ACSC.
“All the anxiety, work, stress kind of melted off with that first goal. Then that second one was a collective exhale from the whole staff,” Wahaftig said.
It was clear that Molly Dwyer was having a good time as she dominated aspects of the game. Wahafting sang Dwyer’s praises postgame when she said, “It was phenomenal to have Dwyer back with us. She brings a level of professionalism we are looking for.”
Although Dwyer herself was proud of her performance, she was more proud of her teammates and being reunited with the club.
“I feel great. I missed being a part of Asheville City so I couldn’t feel better,” Dwyer said. “We’ve got such great team chemistry and we’ve only been together for a short period of time.”
Along with City’s ruthless attack, the Blues secured a hard-earned clean sheet to open the campaign. The backline only had days to familiarize themselves with their positions and with each other.
A smiling Wahafting commented on the defensive performance. “Our center backs Eileen Murphy and Sam Dominguez have never played together before but worked so well together as a unit, to come up with that clean sheet. It was a total team effort.”
The Girls in Blue return to Greenwood Field Tuesday, June 8th, against Women’s Football of Charlotte. A limited number of tickets are remaining for Tuesday’s tilt and can be found here.