Watershed Pisgah Vortex falls just short of earning double cup

Fred McCormick

In soccer, a bad bounce can mean the difference between champions and runner-up, as it did in the championship game for Pisgah Vortex.

But the Watershed Soccer Club’s loss did little to dampen the spirits of a team that lost only one match going into the tournament. Pisgah Vortex, the club’s Open 1st Division team in the Asheville Buncombe Adult Soccer Association, earned a promotion to the Premier Division in the fall.

The Watershed Soccer Club, based in the Swannanoa Valley, fielded nine teams in the ABASA’s spring season, which concluded May 22 when Pisgah Vortex fell to Smush FC Red 2-1.

It was a hard way to finish, outside left defender Matt Kinniard said, especially after the team played so well during the regular season.

“In the grand scheme of things, we were happy with the season overall,” he said. “I think we all realized after the (championship) game that we could have played a little harder. But it was nice to win the regular season cup.”

Kinniard and his team were 6-1-3 through the spring season, which they opened with a 5-0 victory on Feb. 21.

“We have a great chemistry,” Kinniard said. “We never argue or bicker. We mesh really well, and that’s huge. We have a core group of guys that have played together for 10 or 11 years, and we had some young guys that came in and really meshed.”

Pisgah Vortex beat Smush FC Red twice during the regular season, outscoring them by a total of 5-1. But in the championship game, Smush FC Red’s strategy paid off, despite Pisgah Vortex’s early 1-0 lead.

“Their game plan was to sit pack and absorb the pressure we were bringing,” he said. “They put all 11 players behind the ball and played defense. It’s really hard for an offense to break that.”

Smush FC Red gained the momentum with a goal that came off a rebound in the second half, Kinniard said. A bad bounce put them ahead for good.

“Their second goal came when one of our players collided with one of their players and the ball sort of squeaked out,” he said. “It was kind of a fluke.”

The regular season performance for Pisgah Vortex earned the team a promotion to ABASA’s Premier Division for the fall season. Watershed Soccer Club’s other 1st Division team, Watershed Asheville Brewing, didn’t fair as well, according to Benji Ford.

“We were relegated (sent down) to the 2nd Division for the fall season,” he said. “Injuries were a real problem for us.”

Ford tore his Achilles tendon in the last two weeks of the season. He was the latest in a long list of injured players for his team.

“We lost three players to injuries in the first game of the season at Memorial Stadium,” Ford said. “We could have been competing with Pisgah Vortex for the championship if not for so many guys getting hurt.”

His team will now focus on recruiting for fall season. Out for a full year because of his injury, Ford is confident that next season will be different for the team.

“We should win the 2nd Division,” he said. “The key is keeping everybody together, much like (Pisgah) Vortex does.”

Ford was surprised that the regular season cup that Pisgah Vortex claimed was the only cup a Watershed Soccer Club team won this spring.

“The divisions were restructured and that led to some difficult seasons for some teams,” he said. “I’m sure everyone will be recruiting during the summer and competing for cups next season.”