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Bears fall, but have much to build on

AHOSKIE – They’re still small steps, but they could be leading to big strides.

Hertford County High School launched its 2009 soccer season Monday with an 8-0 shutout loss to Pasquotank in the Northeastern Coastal Conference opener for both teams.

And while the program has yet to post a win in its four-year existence (it does have one tie, with Cape Hatteras) there does seem to be a new spark of enthusiasm.

“We have 13 players who’ve never played the game before and no seniors,” said first-year coach Alexandria Pearson, “so we’re learning some things and for the first game of the season we’re still feeling our way around.

“Fortunately,” she added, “we have good numbers which allows us to rotate a lot of players in and out. Fundamentally there are a lot of things to still be worked on, but there are also some things we are excellent at as well.”

Foremost has to be the defensive effort as goal-keeper Mitchell Godwin was fired-on most of the afternoon, but managed to come up with some spectacular saves while letting just seven shots slip by and an own-goal to make for the final margin. On the afternoon, he turned back 15 shots as the speedy Panthers were relentless in their attack.

“He was absolutely awesome,” said Pearson, “and he had a lot of defenders to help.” Brandon Warren also helped anchor the back line.

Jermain Jordan, Eric Worrell, Richard Page and Tevon Harris had two shots-on-goal apiece for Hertford County though none of the Bears’ efforts could find their mark.

Pasquotank wasted little time seizing control of the match as Joseph Deaver dribbled down the left side of the pitch on the opening attack and rifled a shot toward the twine that Godwin smothered to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard in the early going. The attacking continued two minutes later as Nick Krebbs took a crossing pass from Blake Davis but again Godwin kept the ball out of the net.

At the six minute mark in the game, Deaver on a breakaway went in unassisted as he faked the keeper and crossed the ball over before a solid kick found the back of the net and staked the Panthers to a lead they would never surrender.

Rashawn Parker had Hertford County’s first attempt at the 12-minute mark, but his effort sailed just over the crossbar.

Four minutes later at the midway point in the half Pasquotank scored again off a corner kick by Jaquan Riddick that Cullen Priest was able to control in front of the line. Priest’s attempt banged off the left side, but Deaver was there to put it away and put the visitors up, 2-0.

Ansley Lassiter had Hertford County’s second attempt of the half off a rebound miss, but this time Panthers’ goal-keeper Austin Whedbee stretched out to knock away the shot from the right side and keep the Bears off the board.

Pasquotank then scored four straight goals to close out the half thanks to the third goal of the match by Deaver and a pair of scores from Riddick, plus one from Krebs to make it 6-0 at the break.

In the second half the Bears were much more aggressive, but Riddick collected his third goal of the match and Hertford County had an own goal as time wound down.

Pasquotank raised its record to 2-2 overall, 1-1 in NEC play while Hertford County fell to 0-1 but showed promise for the future.

“We had a lot of speed,” said Pasquotank coach Kevin Deaver. “When we’re on, we’re on and we were on today.”

“For the first game of the season and everybody feeling around it wasn’t bad,” said Pearson. “We stayed away from injuries and we’ve got a lot to grow with.”

The Bears hosted their second match of the season yesterday (Wednesday) in a game that finished too late for press time. They will be on the road Monday when they travel to Edenton. First kick is at 7 p.m.