Rocky Mount holds on for nonconference victory

By Justin Hite

Sports Writer

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Through the better part of the nonconference schedule, Rocky Mount High has worked its way through inconsistencies – in its play and in its schedule.

Like the rest of Nash County, the winter weather has caused havoc on the Gryphons practice and game schedule.

As of Thursday, with the Big East Conference opener looming Monday, those inconsistencies are starting to disappear.

Although there were still lingering issues, Rocky Mount was able to hold off a late push by Roanoke Rapids to claim a 2-1 victory on a surprisingly nice day.

“We’re getting there,” Rocky Mount coach Drew Nick said. “We’re certainly not there, but we’re improving with every game that we play. .. We were much better in the movement and much better in the movement together.”

Rocky Mount defeated Roanoke Rapids (0-3) for the second time so far this season.

Freshman forward Sarah Bland scored twice for Rocky Mount (3-4-1), which will open conference play Monday at Nash Central.

Despite playing just eight games, Bland already is approaching the double-digit goal mark.

Her teammates are starting to look for her as well.

“They are, but we all kind of work together,” Bland said. “We pass really well. We’re learning each other and learning how to work together. I think we’ll all start putting them in.”

In the first half, Bland took a perfect cross from Mary McCall Leland, who dropped the ball just over the goalkeeper’s hands.

Leland chased a loose ball down in the corner and played the ball to Bland with her left foot.

All Bland, who was stopped twice early on excellent scoring chances as well, had to do was chest the ball into the goal.

“As she develops, we can develop around that,” said Nick, who lost more than 200 career goals to graduation last year. “We’re just going to slowly but surely get to that point. ... She’s certainly a force up front.”

Bland took another feed from her teammate just minutes into the second half, when midfielder Schuyler Moss found her on a run, which she finished with a near-post strike for Rocky Mount, which starts just one senior.

“We knew that it would take some time, some development,” Nick said. “The girls have skill. They have knowledge of the game. It’s transitioning that to the next level, and that’s movement, vision of the field and togetherness. We’re getting there, it’s just a slow process.”

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Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or