The Men of Asheville opened up their 3-game road trip with a gritty win over Tennessee Soccer Club on Saturday, May 27th.
The first big chance in the game occurred in the 7th minute. Tennessee Soccer Club was awarded a free kick in a wide position and the inswinging ball sent in caused a scramble at the back post but Asheville was able to clear it.
The next bit of danger would not come till the 28th minute when a ball was sent to Max Miller on the right wing. Miller seemed to have beaten the defender to the ball by outmuscling him before sliding it over to Vatne for an easy tap-in but the chance was cut short for a foul.
In the 41st minute, Scott Vatne was able to grab the opener for Asheville City with a bit of brilliance. Vatne was driving down the left flank when he, out of nowhere, lofted a ball toward the goal that caught Tennessee’s keeper off his line and gave Asheville a 1-0 lead.
“I went in behind and got a good ball from Alex (Horveno), I saw the goalie was far out so I thought I would give it a chance and chip it on him and it went in,” said Vatne.
Asheville would test Tennessee’s backline once again when they were awarded a free kick in a wide position. Alex Horveno would step up and take the set piece, which went through traffic and almost bounced into the upper right corner but Tennessee’s goalkeeper was able to fend it off.
Asheville would create danger again in the 50th minute, when in transition Izaiah Vignali headed down the right wing. He sent a low-driven cross towards the back post trying to find a streaking Clay Obara but the pass had a bit too much mustard on it and the Asheville lead remained one.
In the 58th minute, Tennessee threatened to tie it when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. The Tennessee forward stepped up and belted a ball that seemed headed for top bins but the ball sailed high and rang the bottom of the field goal post and Asheville stayed in front.
Asheville would pad their lead in the 78th minute when Juan Ballas was taken down in the box while heading towards goal. Clay Obara sent the keeper the wrong way on the penalty kick and calmly placed it into the bottom left corner to give the Blues a two-goal cushion.
“We all know what Clay can do, there’s a reason he’s back. He’s a fantastic player and he essentially is the reason why we won the game tonight,” said Head Coach Scott Wells.
Tennessee would get one back in the 85th minute however when a shot caught an unlucky Franc Gamiz’s hand in the box. Ivan Jolivet stepped up for TSC and blasted his penalty kick past Jarrett Payne to cut the lead to 2-1.
In stoppage time, Obara committed a foul and softly rolled the ball away but that was enough for the referee as he was given his second yellow and sent off.
However, it would not be enough for Tennessee to come back as the Blues held on for a 2-1 win and started off their road trip with all 3 points.
For his efforts on the night, Scott Vatne was awarded the Highland Brewing Wishing Star of the Match.
Blues on three… Two, THREE
Up next for the men, the road trip continues as the team heads south to Huntsville, Alabama to take on North Alabama Soccer Club.
The Women return to Greenwood Field on Saturday, June 3rd, as they host the Charlotte Independence.