ELKIN - In back-to-back games, Starmount and Elkin nearly tripped up Mountain Valley Conference leader Ashe County last week.
Sitting atop the MVAC standings at 10-0 and 16-1 overall, the Huskies got all they could handle from the two rivals last Wednesday and Thursday.
Against the Rams, Ashe escaped Boonville with a hard-fought 2-1 victory that left Starmount head coach Dale Draughn “pleased” with how his team played.
“We played two very solid halves of soccer tonight, but we came up on the short end of the stick,” he explained. “But I am pleased with how we are playing as a team right now. We are building momentum for the final six games of the season and then playoffs.”
Draughn compared the game to a heavyweight boxing match with each team throwing punches and the other countering.
In a gritty first half, neither team could find the back of the net until AC’s Miguel Ramos broke through with 10 minutes left to give Ashe a 1-0 lead.
That advantage didn’t last long as Chandler Chappell put home an assist by Luis Luna less than a minute later to tie things up at 1-1 heading into halftime.
The Huskies controlled possession much of the second half, but the Starmount defense hung tough until the game-winning, rebound-goal by Jamie Weaver at the 8:28 mark. The Rams cleared the ball out of the box, but Weaver picked up the loose ball and fired it back in for the game-winner.
Starmount had a couple of opportunities to find the equalizer, but each chance was stoned by Braxton Treadway in goal, preserving the win for the Huskies.
“We told the guys to go out and have fun, we have nothing to lose and that all the pressure it on Ashe,” Draughn said. “We played well enough to pull the upset but just did not finish our opportunities.”
Despite the loss, Draughn says the Rams are starting to come together as a team hitting the home-stretch.
“We are getting better and better and starting to come together as a team, and as a coach you are wanting your team to get better and start gelling as a team towards the end of the season and come playoff time,” he said.
With the loss, Starmount falls to 6-5-1 on the year and under .500 at 4-5 in the conference.
Against the Buckin’ Elks, Ashe had to use another late goal to escape with a 3-2 victory.
In West Jefferson, Elkin jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead after Dante Sanchez found the back of the net at the nine-minute mark.
But the Huskies responded with two goals in the first half by Frank Ledezma and Cesar Ruiz to take a 2-1 advantage into the intermission.
Ashton Gant brought the Elks even with a goal midway through the second half to tie the game at 2-2 in front of a stunned home crowd.
The Huskies had two chances down the stretch to hit the game-winner, but shots inside the box sailed over the goal post. Gant had a golden opportunity to notch the winning shot in the 74th minute, but a diving save by Treadway kept the game knotted up.
Ruiz finally broke through when he put a shot past Jesus Rivera for a late 3-2 lead at the 77-minute mark.
Elkin was unable to get another shot off in the final three minutes, falling in the hard-fought matchup.
With the loss, the 15th-ranked Elks dropped to 8-5 overall and 6-3 in the MVAC.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.