The Otters fought, but fell 2-1 in Asheville on Wednesday night against Asheville City SC in the inaugural Blue Ridge Classic. The Otters got on the board first, but Asheville was able to score two unanswered goals to walk away with the rivalry trophy.
In the 15th minute, the Otters were able to put the ball in the net when Ivan Andabak (Tusculum) was able to smash home a Tresor Mbuyu (Liberty) shot, but Andabak was called offside.
Minutes later, the Otters were able to breakthrough when Roberto Soares (Pfeiffer) was able to find his college teammate, Mateo Yepes (Pfeffier), who calmly finished to give the Otters the lead.
The Otters were able to generate several more chances down the left side in the first half, thanks to the speed of Mbuyu and the strength of Yepes.
Asheville’s equalizer came in the 34th minute, when a high-arcing cross from Asheville’s Kenny Anderson found it’s way into the goal.
The Otters continued to threaten and were able to get a trio of chances just before the halftime whistle. It all started when Soares sent in a header that the goalie just held on to. Moments later, Andabak fired a shot from the top of the box that the Asheville keeper was forced to parry wide. On the ensuing corner, Sam Jenkins (Carson-Newman) was able to get his head to the ball, but it went wide to end the half.
The second half was a back-and-forth affair; with the Otters best chances coming in the 70th and 75th minutes. The first came off of a Juan Carlos Ramirez (Montreat) cross that Alexis Castillo (Wayland Baptist) was able to force the keeper to save. In the 75th minute, another dangerous cross from Ramirez saw both Cameron Morton (UNCG) and Mbuyu get shots deflected by Asheville defenders.
The deciding goal occurred in the 79th minute when Asheville’s Grady Bradshaw was able to get out on the counter and slot a ball past Otters’ ‘keeper Carlos Rubio (Ohio Valley) for a 2-1 lead.
The Otters last chance at a comeback came late in stoppage time when a Charlie Machell (ETSU) free kick went just wide.
The Otters will kick off PDL play next Tuesday when they travel to Columbia, South Carolina to face the SC United Bantams. For more information regarding upcoming events and tickets, please go to ottersoccer.com!