WEST JEFFERSON — The 2017 soccer season opens on Tuesday at Surry Central for the Lady Huskies, a team looking to win a fourth straight Mountain Valley Athletic Conference Championship.
As has been tradition for the past few seasons, Ashe will have another stiff non-conference slate of games to get them prepared for MVAC competition.
Taking over as the new head coach this season will be Paul Winterton, who was previously the junior varsity head coach and has spent numerous seasons coaching teams in the Ashe County Parks and Recreation leagues.
“It’s going to be a building year for me, trying to figure out where some people will go and what fits best for them,” said Winterton.
The Lady Huskies did lose several key players from last year’s team, including MVAC Player of the Year Mahala Land, Bekah Bowers, Valerie Keys and Bennett Watson among others.
Ashe will return leading scorer Melissa Ramos, who may have a shot at breaking the program scoring record held by Aspen Domske if she has a strong season.
Makayla Blevins also returns and will be one of the leaders of the defense. Another name to look out for in that defensive unit will be Alicia Martinez.
“We’ve had four or five scrimmages and so far, Alicia has stood out and been really good on the back line,” Winterton said.
The starting goalie this year is expected to be Katelyn Tester. She saw some time as the varsity goalie last season after injuries in front of her.
In the midfield area, Caroline Current and Maddy Houck will have the responsibility this season to get the offense started.
“They are really going to have to step up at the midfield spot this year. They’re going to have to learn to control the game from there and set up some good passes for Melissa and Haley (Miller) up front,” Winterton said.
Overall, Winterton sees this group as most certainly having a shot at the MVAC crown, the spot the Lady Huskies have held down for each of the past three seasons.
“I think we’re in for a good year. We should be a conference title contender,” Winterton said. “I think we should be pretty good. We’ve got speed up top with Melissa and Haley. If we can figure out how to work the bugs out on defense, I think we should be good.”
Ashe County varsity soccer schedule
Feb. 28 at Surry Central, 5 p.m
March 1 at North Surry 5:15 p.m.
March 3 at Hibriten 5 p.m.
March 6 at Avery 6 p.m.
March 9 vs. Watauga 5:15 p.m.
March 14 at Starmount 5:15 p.m.
March 17 vs. Wilkes Central 5:15 p.m.
March 20 vs. North Surry 5:15 p.m.
March 21 vs. East Wilkes 5:15 p.m.
March 24 at North Wilkes 5:15 p.m.
March 28 at West Wilkes 5:15 p.m.
March 30 vs. Surry Central 5 p.m.
March 31 at Alleghany 5:15 p.m.
April 4 vs. Elkin 5:15 p.m.
April 5 vs. Hibriten 5:15 p.m.
April 7 vs. Starmount 5:15 p.m.
April 11 at Wilkes Central 5:15 p.m.
April 13 at East Wilkes 5:15 p.m.
April 25 vs. Alleghany 5:15 p.m.
April 28 at Elkin 5:15 p.m.
May 2 vs. North Wilkes 5:15 p.m.
May 5 vs. West Wilkes 5:15 p.m.
May 10, 13, 17, 20 NCHSAA Playoffs
May 23 NCHSAA Regionals
May 26 NCHSAA State Championship
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062.