The Eagles won the first matchup of the season, 2-1, and then made it two in a row with a 5-0 win in Rocky Mount just eight days prior to Friday’s matchup. This time around, the Eagles controlled possession for most of the match, and found the back of the net three times for a 3-0 victory and a Piedmont District championship in their final season in the district.
“They’re very fast. Their speed front-to-back is unbelievable and they’re very technical with the ball and they defend very well,” said Bassett head coach Brian Hill. “They’re just good.”
The Bengals averaged just over five goals per game. Against Franklin County, however, Bassett was held to just one goal in the three matchups this season. Hill said that he made an adjustment to his formation to help combat Franklin County’s attack, but also to prepare for the Region 4D tournament.
“We changed our formation a little bit defensively for them, but also to prepare for the next couple of games,” he said. “We slipped a player back from each line to prepare defensively, so that kind of took away (some of our attack) and left Caroline (Cook) up top by herself.”
The Bengals were only able to register one shot on goal, a free kick from Cook from just outside the penalty box in the 27th minute, but it was knocked away.
Grace Webster did her best to help keep the Bengals within striking distance, making seven saves in the loss. Franklin County took the 1-0 lead in the 35th minute, and then doubled the lead in the 53rd minute, both goals coming off the foot of Erica-Blake Sellars. Sellars’ sister, Madeline Sellars, scored the Eagles’ third goal in the 73rd minute to cap the scoring for the game.
As the second half went on, and Franklin County’s possession kept on increasing, the physicality picked up. A few yellow cards were handed out on both ends, but Hill was pleased that his team kept their composure.
“I never question this girl as far as that goes,” he said. “I’ve always said attitude reflects leadership. I’m a very laid back, relaxed kind of a guy and they’ve adapted to that and that’s the way most of them are.”
The Bengals will now be off until Thursday night when they will be the No. 3 seed in the Region 4D tournament hosting No. 6 Charlottesville at Smith River Sports Complex. Hill said Franklin County is a good team to play ahead of the region tournament due to their physicality and speed.
“I think it prepares us a little bit physicality wise, and I think we need to be a little bit more technical and a little faster, make decisions quicker,” he said. “Our region, from one-through-seven, is loaded. You can’t make the playoffs in Region 4 and be a slouch.”
Bassett is unbeaten following their losses this season. Hill said he preaches to his team to never look backwards when it comes to results on the field, only ahead to what’s in front of them, and that’s why he thinks that trend can continue come Thursday night.
“They’re resilient, nothing fazes them and they know just the next game,” he said. “If you stumble over something that’s behind you, you’re going in the wrong direction, so they’re always looking forward to the next thing.”
Bassett will take on Charlottesville Thursday at Smith River Sports Complex, a six-day break between games.
“We’re going to a light walkthrough Monday, just get out here on the turf and get some touches on the ball and then Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll game plan for Thursday,” Hill said.
The kickoff time for Thursday’s Region 4D opening round contest is still TBD.