After falling to Wilson Fike on Tuesday, Rocky Mount High received a jolt in the form of its first conference loss of the season.
The Gryphons insist they corrected the mistakes that cost them against the Golden Demons and that they have taken the steps to make sure another letdown doesn’t happen again.
There was no lack of intensity from Rocky Mount on Wednesday, as the Gryphons used a dominant team effort to dispel Southern Nash, 4-0, at Rocky Mount High School.
“We learned our lesson from the Fike game,” Rocky Mount senior defender Caroline Bell said. “We came out way more intense for (Wednesday’s) game than we did for the Fike game. It showed because we played a lot better, too.”
Rocky Mount (16-2, 9-1) kept an overwhelming majority of the possession. The Gryphons were the side dictating the game’s pace, controlling the ball at every level and winning most 50-50 balls.
Southern Nash (7-10-1) didn’t put a shot on Rocky Mount keeper Tia Hudgins until the 71st minute.
“This was one of the game where we didn’t really feel threatened by the opponent,” Rocky Mount coach Drew Nick said. “We’re at the point where we’re at the peak of our season, so we want to take what we didn’t do well in our last game and try to do it better the next game. We have to use these games to prep for the playoffs.”
The Gryphons outshot the Ladybirds, 24-2. Rocky Mount had a 3-0 lead in the 26th minute, at which point the Gryphons’ attack became less direct and more about possession.
“I mean, they’re a really talented team,” Southern Nash coach John Matthews said. “They have a lot of girls who are very good, and we tried to disrupt some of what they’re trying to do.
“It’s tough to do that for an entire match.”
Sydney Browder scored twice for the Gryphons, while Lauren Smith and Bell also added goals.
Browder opened the scoring in the seventh minute when she won a 50-50 ball along the sideline to the goalkeeper’s left, then beat a defender and struck a low drive into the net.
Thirteen minutes later, Browder scored on a penalty kick after Smith drew a penalty inside the 18-yard box.
Smith scored six minutes after Bell, tapping home a well-directed cross from Evie Hunter on a corner kick.
“We have to start getting back to that togetherness, making fundamental-type plays as we go into the conference tournament,” Nick said. “We started to see that (Wednesday).”
Bell capped the Senior Day celebrations in the 75th minute. Normally a defender, she played forward in the final moments and scored the second goal of her high school career.
“It was the first real one, though,” Bell said. “I got the first one on a deflection, so I don’t know if that really counts. This one did.”
Nick Piotrowicz can be reached at 407-9952 or npiotrowicz@ rmtelegram.com