Viper girls' soccer off to rough start

Feb. 29—HENDERSON — After a scoreless defeat against Rolesville in the Vipers' season opener, the Vance County girls' soccer team started the year with two losses after a 9-0 skunking by the Franklinton Rams in Vipers Stadium Thursday night.

The Vipers were 10-1 underdogs going into the chilly matchup against Franklinton, with MaxPreps writing the contest off as a win for the Rams before the game even started. Despite the long odds, the Vipers kept the Rams scoreless in the first 20 minutes, before they poured it on. The Vipers ended the half down 4-0 after an outburst of goals.

A cold night Thursday night in Vance County meant a "funeral crowd" with only friends and family in attendance for the girls' game. During halftime, officials huddled with Vance County Athletic Director Philip Weil around a propane heater to keep warm.

In the second half, another goal came off the right leg of a Franklinton striker, but it was called off — it did not matter. The Vipers put virtually no pressure on Franklinton's goalie.

Down 6-0, a scrum ensued with the ball near Vance County's goal line, but the Vipers County cleared the danger before the Rams sailed a shot over the crossbar.

With under five minutes left, Franklinton booted a shot from outside of the box "above the moon" off the woodwork, but cleaned up the scoring opportunity a few moments later.

Up 8-0, Franklinton was one goal away from enacting the "mercy rule" which they achieved with their final goal coming with 31 seconds left in regulation.

"We're all still positive," said Vance County right back Selena Banda. "We still try our hardest, even if we are losing 9-0 — [and cold]."

According to Banda, the team will look to utilize their positive outlook and a couple of days of practice to regroup for the Monday match against Louisburg. There is also optimism amongst the Vipers coaching staff for a better performance next week against the Warriors.

With the number of shot attempts and offensive opportunities for the Rams, Vance County's goalies were asked to do a lot, as the defense struggled to figure out their assignments.

"We're taught to kick it out and keep the ball away from the middle because that's where all the goals happen," said Banda.

In addition to the holes in the defense, the Vipers struggled to generate any offense of their own; playing the majority of the game in their half of the pitch, and failing to produce any meaningful shots on goal.

With the pair of hiccups to start the season, the Vipers will look for something to hang their hat on as they get used to their new squad. Sophomore Nicola Thompson was sidelined in Thursday's contest as she recovers from an injury incurred during the girls' basketball state playoff run.