By Alex McLoughlin/Asheville City SC
Asheville City SC ended the regular season on a high note with a 1-0 victory over Atlanta SC at
With a playoff place secured, the Blues were jostling for seeding in the conference tournament.
A win or a draw would ensure a matchup with Greenville FC in Chattanooga. The visitors from
Atlanta were playing for pride as they were already eliminated from postseason play.
Atlanta didn’t look like a last-place team when the match started as they recorded the first shot
just 30 seconds in. In the fifth minute, Asheville City goalkeeper Pijus Petkevicius made an
outstanding double save on what looked like a sure goal.
Hady Sarr got the start for the Blues and made the most of it. The Senegalese forward showed
off his dribbling skills as he continuously beat his defender down the wing. As the first half
went on, the Blues garnered more possession. Chris Allan had back-to-back chances in the 15 th
and 16 th minutes with a free kick and a weakly hit long shot.
After some tame Asheville City attacks, Atlanta took their turn on the offensive. Prince Saydee
sent a weak shot on goal in the 21 st minute. Jeffrey Otoo was in a great position just two minutes
later, but he shanked his effort wide of goal.
The Atlanta attacks seemed to wake the Blues up. Forward Frank Rosenwald often found
himself with the ball at his feet in the box. Unfortunately for him, the Atlanta defense made sure
he wasn’t able to get quality shots off.
The best chance of the first half came in the 39 th minute when Sarr sent a ball into the box that
was tapped just over the bar. The last chance of the half for Asheville City came in the 43 rd
minute when Sarr tried to volley one home, but he sent it over the bar.
The second half began with both sides eagerly searching for an elusive opening goal. Dylan
Burke and Sarr both tried their luck with shots in the 46 th and 48 th minutes to no avail. Atlanta
was dangerously close to scoring in the 57 th minute, but Petkevicius stood on his head to make an
acrobatic double save before Kyle McCurley cleared the ball to safety.
Asheville City took its turn with the ball again as Chris Allan and Rosenwald looked to get past a
stingy Atlanta backline. The Blues got a great chance when a cross was sent into the box, but it
was just too high for anyone in navy to reach.
The hosts dominated possession but lacked shots on target. Atlanta meanwhile, seemed content
with parking the bus to earn a point. The scoring chances continued but the goal just wasn’t
coming. The fourth official decided there would be four minutes of stoppage time for someone
to find a goal.
Burke sent a knuckler toward Atlanta keeper Bryce Billington who stopped it easily. The Blues
were desperately seeking a goal, pushing everyone forward. They finally hit pay dirt in the 92 nd
minute when a Jake Woody header was pushed over the goal line by Ross Fitzpatrick. The
stadium erupted as the Blues celebrated the game-winner in the final home game of the season.
Asheville City held on defensively for another minute before the whistle blew for full time. The
win secured a matchup with Greenville FC in the conference playoffs.
Photo Credit: Isaac Bullman