Watauga boys' soccer

ASHEVILLE — At the start of the 2019 season, Watauga boys’ soccer coach Josh Honeycutt was curious how the Pioneers’ offense would look without its top two scorers from 2018.

He found out, at least for one game, the Pioneers were in good shape offensively. The Pioneers got two goals from Holden Perry and a goal each from Walker Franklin and another from David Sprague in a 4-0 Watauga win in the first game of the season.

Watauga scored all of its goals in the first half. The Pioneers hope to make it two straight victories with an Aug. 21 home showdown against Newton-Conover, which was 2-A state runner-up in 2018.

“They’re going to be really good,” Honeycutt said. “They’re going to be really well-coached and they’re going to have lots of talent. They’ve got several guys returning, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Watauga entered the season without Jair Alvarez and Gabe Highfield, who both graduated from last season after scoring 43 of Watauga’s 101 goals. Honeycutt felt going into the season that the Pioneers would have to make up the scoring slack by committee instead of depending on one or two players to provide the bulk of the scoring.

“I felt like we played really well,” Honeycutt said. “Our attack was good and we looked really sharp.”

Watauga’s defense made sure Erwin’s offense did not get many scoring opportunities outside of a couple of breakaway chances.

“We were very solid defensively,” Honeycutt said. “There might have been a couple of shots on goal. We looked pretty solid and didn’t give them much.”

The Pioneers turn their attention to Newton-Conover, which lost 2-1 to Clinton in the 2-A state finals. The Red Devils finished 23-4-1 last season with just six seniors on the roster. Their game at Watauga is their first of the season.

Honeycutt was happy to get the Pioneers’ first win of the season at Erwin.

“It’s always a whole lot better to start the season 1-0 instead of 0-1,” Honeycutt said. “You always want to start on the right foot with one in the win column instead of a loss. It’s a good stepping-stone. It’s a good way to start the season and get a little momentum and continue down that track.”

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