Photo courtesy: Eakin Howard
The men of Asheville City Soccer Club welcomed Port City FC (NPSL) to Greenwood Field Friday, May 12, in a friendly match to officially start the 2023 season.
The Blues quickly pushed the Port City backline. A quick breakout down the left side just 5 minutes into the game by Alex Horveno gave the Blues their first look at the net but was quickly scooped up. Port City wasn’t able to get the ball far, an intercepted pass just out of the box was tossed around and drilled into the back of the net by Asheville’s Izaiah Vignali.
In the 14th minute, defender Jason Gun shot a rocket down the left side, again giving the Blues a solid shot in the box. A cheeky backheel on the left side moments later found the foot of Emilio Roman but just missed the mark and sailed out the back.
The 19th minute Roman would make good on his attempts and head one in the back of the net off a beautiful pass inside by Vignali.
“Izaiah was everywhere tonight. Really happy for him, we have worked together for a long time now. He is disappointed after the back of a great college season that he did not find that pro-contract, so he has a point to prove and I think he made that point tonight,” Head Coach Scott Wells.
Port City FC pushed back, doing their best to attempt to challenge keeper Jarrett Payne, but the Blues backline worked their magic to keep them mostly out of the box.
The Blues continued their high pressure push, winning balls and moving into attacking play effectively, keeping Port City at bay (puns, I know).
In the 29th, a beautiful pass from the backline directly in front of the goal by Alex Horveno bounced around before being tapped in by Juan Ballas.
Moments later, in the 34th, Emilio Roman again found the back of the net putting the Blues up 4-0.
The Blues continued to control the play through the end of the first half.
In the second half, Sean Green moved into the back of the net for Asheville City, keeping the Blues backline in order.
And then, came the rain. Heavy rains moved in at about the 50th minute mark followed by a lightning strike at around the 60th minute that forced the game into delay.
Ultimately, the game was called and the Blues recorded the win and Izaiah Vignali awarded the Highland Brewing Wishing Star of the Match.
“Always great to start the season with a clean sheet, it was an area we wanted to improve from last season. It was extremely important to get off to a good start and we executed really well,” Coach Wells.
The Blues return to Greenwood Field on Saturday, May 20 when they welcome in East Atlanta for the first game in league play in the 2023 season.