By VAN HOLLAND
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
"I'm proud of each and everyone of you guys for the effort you have given me this season," Tarboro Coach Leshaun Jenkins said to his team after they were eliminated from the NCHSAA 1-A playoffs Saturday.
The fourth seeded Vikings lost 3-0 to the fifth seeded Spring Creek Gators at Indian Lake Sports Complex.
Spring Creek outshot Tarboro 25-11. The Gators were able to take advantage of numerous questionable calls with Tarboro players playing through the ball and watching their opponents drop to the ground even when they were untouched. Tarboro was called for 12 fouls on loose balls and one of those calls got a Tarboro player a red card and ejected from the match.
"I don't have anything negative to say about the way my team played," Jenkins said. "I apologized to my team for not getting them prepared to get past the second round. They just gave me everything they had and I am pleased with their effort, because we lost to a good team."
Tarboro got behind in the ninth minute of the match when Spring Creek forward Brayan Lopez was able to score when he caught the Vikings defense off guard and found goalie Jordan Williams to far out of the box. Lopez was able to punch it in for the 1-0 lead.
Williams did manage to record 10 saves in the match.
The lead stayed that way until there was 18 minutes left in the match and Spring Creek was able to score two goals in about a 12 minute period.
With 18 minutes left, Gator forward David Vega found himself with no one in between him and Williams when he accepted a pass from a teammate over the top of the Vikings defense. Vega was able to cut to the right and take shot, which slipped past Williams diving hands.
Before the goal, the official on the right side of the field had a flag raised and had called off sides on Vega, but to Spring Creek's avail, the official in the middle of the field let play go on and overturned the call and the goal counted.
More questionable calls began being made against Tarboro. With nine minutes left in the match, a loose ball was being played in front of the Vikings bench and Tarboro senior Joe Miller went to play the loose ball and knocked down a Gator player. The official red carded Miller, which ejected him from the match.
"The ball was free and Joe was making a play on the ball," Jenkins said. "They both went for it and the Spring Creek player fell. It was nothing any different then what they were trying to do to us. So I told Joe after the red card you were going for the ball and that's not your fault."
A minute later, Lopez was able to find the back of the net again to give the Gators the 3-0 advantage.
Jenkins wanted to see more shot attempts from his team, but couldn't get the break they needed over the top or in open field. Junior Joey Lancaster and senior David Guevara took five shots apiece on goal, but couldn't get the right angle on them.
"We had our chances to score," Jenkins said. "We worked on a few new set pieces during practice and just couldn't score."