KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – One Knoxville SC ascended to the top of the USL League Two South Central Division standings and claimed their first-ever trophy with a 3-1 away win over Asheville City SC on Tuesday.
Asheville City entered the match undefeated through nine games this season, handing Knoxville their only loss in their inaugural home opener at Austin-East High School. The game was also the second match in the Smoky Mountain Series, a two-leg tie between the Appalachian clubs with the winner receiving a unique, gold hiking boot trophy.
After a scoreless first half in Asheville, Germany native and Carson-Newman University senior Yannick Kranz put Knoxville ahead in the 51st minute with a right-footed strike from the edge of the box after a long throw-in routine.
Swedish defender Buster Sjoberg doubled Knoxville’s lead nine minutes later by heading in a corner kick delivery from captain James Thomas. Asheville City narrowed the deficit in the 87th minute through a curling free kick from Quintin Huerman.
One Knoxville forward Stephen Afrifa-Kodua sealed the three points and the Smoky Mountain Series trophy in the seventh minute of stoppage time with a stunning individual goal.
The win saw Knoxville leapfrog Asheville City for first place in the standings, leading the division by two points with four games remaining in the regular season. The top two teams will advance to the USL League Two playoffs where they’ll face off with other Southern Conference division winners for a spot in the national semifinals.
The winner of the South Central Division will also receive priority for a place in the 2023 U.S. Open Cup, America’s oldest annual team sports tournament.
One Knoxville plays three of the final four games at Maryville College with the next game set for Saturday, June 25 at 7:30 p.m. against Tennessee Soccer Club.