ACSC’s Men's team opened up conference play on May 14 with an away win against One Knoxville SC for the inaugural game of the Smoky Mountain Series.
“We’re going to enjoy taking those three points back across the mountains,” said Coach Wells.
Being the first regular season matchup for both teams, their crowd responded with excitement and cheers, until an early goal by ACSC’s Kemy Amiche quickly silenced the One Knoxville fans. Amiche made it look easy as he tapped the first goal in off a beautiful cross at the six minute mark.
Not long after, Knoxville scored on a corner kick in the 21st minute, leaving the game tied when halftime rolled around.
When the game resumed, both teams came out ready to play, Knoxville keeping the Blues keeper, Ryan Bilichuk busy with a total of 12 shots and 8 corners taken. Bilichuk remained unphased by the high pressure and kept Knoxville scoreless during the second half.
“We went through a lot of adversity together but we talked a lot about not becoming too emotional and sticking to our plan,” said Coach Wells. “That plan changed a little at half time and I don’t think they caught on until the injury to Josiah Blanton so we were able to start dictating the play from there.”
Malcom Ward drew a late game penalty kick, taken and scored by Luca Erhardt. The goal gave the Blues a late lead in which they were able to hold out until the whistle was blown at the end of extra time.
“We knew they had quality,” Coach Wells said of One Knoxville’s roster. “Once we broke their press, some of the combination play in the field was fantastic. It’s a credit to the guys. The penalty was great to get, but the performance before the second looked like we were going to win.”
“Our confidence grew massively in the game. It was a joy to see us move the ball the way we did. We have a special group and a sense of togetherness I was hoping for,” said Wells.
Next week, both ACSC teams will compete in a double-header home opener on Friday, May 20. The men’s team will face the Dalton Red Wolves at 5 p.m. Immediately following, the women’s team will face the NC Fusion at 7:30 p.m. for their inaugural USLW match.