Success measured by spirit, progress
J.F. Webb scored more goals Friday night at Vikings Stadium than Northern Vance has all season. The Vikings have been outscored 163-12 — but you wouldn’t know it watching and listening to their team huddles and goal celebrations.
Northern scored its fourth goal of Friday’s match with about 10 minutes to play, pulling the home side within 12 of the Warriors. The Vikings bench erupted when Zack Kelly’s ball found the net, prompting coach Sam Barnes to gallop along his team’s sideline while shouting and pumping his fist.
The 17-4 loss marked another lopsided defeat for Northern, which concludes its inaugural lacrosse season this week. But the final scores aren’t the most important thing for the Vikings, who doubled their previous scoring high Friday.
“Every time we score a goal, we get so happy, hyped up,” said Vikings freshman Turner Roberson. “You get the adrenaline pumping and you want to go out and score some more.”
It was the first meeting between Northern (0-9, 0-7 Big Eight Conference) and Webb (1-9, 1-5), which earned its first win of the season.
Connor Pendergrass (2), C.J. Ayscue and Allan Robertson registered assists for the Vikings, who have been shut out three times this season, scoring two goals on three occasions. Sophomore attackman Lucas Hamrick, the team captain, has done most of the scoring and added three more goals to his tally Friday.
Kelly’s score marked the first of the season by a midfielder.
“People are starting to become more confident in their abilities,” said Barnes. “They’re able to take shots and not be afraid to do everything else on the field.”
None of Northern’s four seniors (Tre Small, Day’Qwanne Fairely, Zach Long, Mykel Williams) honored Friday had played lacrosse before this season.
Having players like Hamrick and Roberson, each a veteran of the Vance Charter School program, has helped Northern avoid at least some of the growing pains that Webb experienced as a first-year program five seasons ago.
Warriors head coach David Farabee said the Vikings look better than his program did when it started because of those players on the roster with prior experience.
“We’re proud of Northern Vance,” said Farabee. “We’ve been where they are: a first-year team, learning the game. We appreciate everything they’re putting into it.”
Ben Branch led the Warriors with five goals, Nick Meador had four and Luke Wheeless tallied three. Also scoring were Bruce Clay, Garrod Watts, Tony Bowden, Nolan Boyd, and Cameron Blanchard.
An exodus of seniors last spring left Webb rebuilding.
“We struggled some, but it’s nice to get the first win,” said Farabee. “It’s nice for the boys to get that feeling.”
Each side felt something potentially special being born. Barnes said his players looked forward to the game throughout the week and Farabee believes the series could develop into an exciting one.
Webb’s roster also features Vance Charter alums, adding a personal touch to the lacrosse version of a rivalry that has grown contentious at times in other sports.
Blanchard said there was some tension on the field, but everyone seemed to be a good sport for the most part as his side earned a much-needed victory.
The Warriors and Vikings will battle again Friday in Oxford.
“This win is really good,” said Blanchard, a senior midfielder. “A lot of people at our school were starting to completely forget about our sport. We started getting less and less people showing up. Maybe next week we can have a big crowd for the rematch.”