Soccer Rams Get Payback Against ACR, Beat AHS to Win MAC - TribPapers
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Soccer Rams Get Payback Against ACR, Beat AHS to Win MAC

Roberson GK Ben Yang clutches a save, with Asheville’s Alex Litzenberger (25) right in on him. Ram captain Will Sanders (21) and Brendan Smith (18) are at right. TCR won 5-1. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Skyland – Quinn Roberts scored both goals as T.C. Roberson shut out archrival A.C. Reynolds 2-0 on the road last week, avenging an earlier loss by the same score and closing the regular season as Mountain Athletic Conference soccer champions.

The Roberson Rams (17-2-1) are the West Region’s number one seed in 4A, for most populous schools. They clobbered Sun Valley 5-2 in a playoff opener on Monday.

They convincingly defeated second-place Asheville (16-3-2) in a clash for the league title, by 5-1 at home on Monday, Oct. 16 – a week before beating ACR. Roberson and AHS tied atop the conference at 10-1-1. But TCR was better head-to-head, with a win and a 1-1 tie at AHS on Sept. 20. Two-thirds (15 of 22) of varsity Rams are seniors.

MAC runner-up AHS Cougars, under head coach Mike Flowe, won their opener 2-0 over Northern Guilford. They beat Enka (16-5-1; 7-5) by 2-0 at home on Oct. 25 to share the MAC crown with TCR. West Region seeding has Roberson first and Asheville 12th in 4A, and Reynolds fifth and Enka 11th in 3A.

Sloan’s Sparkling Debut

Leslie Lamb Sloan won the league in her debut season as Roberson head soccer coach. The one-time South Carolina Gamecock forward teaches history at TCR. She reminded the Rams of very recent history — their narrow loss to Reynolds. “To win that rematch, we had to be more ball-dominant. That has to be a priority. We have to disrupt, not let them get ‘comfy.’ Get to the ball first. Or (legally) ‘tackle’ them right away. Don’t let them turn.”

Reynolds head coach Patrick Gladys said of the rematch, “We had plenty of chances to take hold of the game. We simply missed at least five golden opportunities to put the ball in the net. Then our heads went down, and their spirits went up. I credit their energy, and some bounces of the ball going their way — rather than ours.”

In the teams’ prior clash, Reynolds (17-5-1; 8-4 MAC) blanked Roberson 2-0 at TCR on Sept. 27. Goalkeeper Sage Turner got the shutout. ACR used its blend of size and speed to get to the ball more that evening. ACR Rockets spanked McDowell 7-1 on Oct. 25 to move ahead of Enka alone into third place, and blasted Kings Mountain 9-0 Monday in a 3A playoff opener.

Roberson shut out Enka 4-0 and 1-0.

Roberts Rules of Scoring Order

Quinn Roberts is on a scoring tear. He had three-goal “hat tricks” against Asheville and Erwin two days later, as well as versus North Buncombe and McDowell. He had both goals against ACR, and the game-winner against Enka. “Quinn works exceptionally hard, in fitness training,” Coach Sloan said.

The other star senior striker, Daniel Foster, has 15 goals and ten assists. He is a sturdy 6-foot-2. “We have a big guy (Foster), and a fast guy (Roberts),” Sloan said. “They’re chaotic. They’re hard to ‘mark’ (guard). They’re both really fast.”

Ram defender Nash Lister kicks the ball up to try to evade AHS midfielder Alex Litzenberger (25). Both grimace intensely in the rivalry match. Photo by Pete Zamplas.
Ram defender Nash Lister kicks the ball up to try to evade AHS midfielder Alex Litzenberger (25). Both grimace intensely in the rivalry match. Photo by Pete Zamplas.

Freshman Hanson Garcia scored the first Ram goal against Asheville. TCR led 2-0 at halftime. Steady rain fell, with six minutes left in the first half. From that point on, it poured Ram goals — three by Roberts and one by Will Sanders.

Win and Yang

Ram senior goalkeeper Ben Yang yields merely 0.156 goals per contest. “Ben Yang is a great goalkeeper,” Coach Sloan said. “He has sure hands. He’s steady. We have a great defensive line. When he does have to make saves, Ben comes up big.” Further, “he holds the ball well. We launch our attack through his hands and feet.” Also, Sloan said, “He’s improved in organizing the defense. Ben’s a vocal leader.”

Leading MAC Scorers

Enka Jet Brandon Miranda notched a hat trick in a 4-0 win over North Henderson on Oct. 23. His 19 regular-season goals are second-most to Roberts’ 25, among MAC players. Enka blanked NHHS again, 3-0 in rain in a 3A playoff opener. Enka’s Tanner Cumbow scored the sole goal to beat NBHS Hawks (2-10). Antonio Trejo scored twice as NBHS doubled up Smoky Mountain.

Cole Jordan leads Reynolds with 15 regular-season goals. He and Foster are just ahead of Shep Goldstein (13 G) of Asheville, Noel Medrano of NBHS; ACR’s Ethan Saunders, James Black, Isaac Chromey and Cooper Greene; and Asheville’s Harrison Cash, Jonah Baudrand and Alex Litzenberger.

Juan Argueta of Erwin (4-8) scored half of the Warrior goals in a 6-1 crunching of McDowell. He has 11 goals. Gonzalo Martinez-Cruz coaches Erwin.

Hendersonville (12-7-1; 9-3 MFC), West Henderson (12-8-2; 9-3 M7), North Henderson (7-11-2; 6-5-1 M7), and East Henderson (8-9-6; 5-6-1 M7) all lost playoff openers Monday.

Warhorses

Reigning state 2A champion Owen Warhorses (17-1-3) are seeded first. They opened playoffs by stampeding Mt. Pleasant 9-0. They won the Western Highland title again with a perfect 12-0 mark. Trei Morrison coaches them. Their average score is 5-0.2. Their sole loss was 1-0 to mighty 4A Roberson.

All-state junior Davis Kendall, Owen’s 50-goal scorer of a year ago, missed most of this season due to an injury in the third match.

But others stepped up to provide balance with five double-digit goal scorers. Several Warhorses each recently scored a pair of goals (a “brace”): Leading regular-season scorers Elijah Caro (19 goals), Daniel Garcia (17), Spencer Wooley (14 G) and A.J. Logan (13 G); and also Sheppard Kohler.