FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
PINETOPS – The Tarboro Vikings sealed their faith to make the playoffs Wednesday after they defeated the SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars 3-1 in Eastern Plains Conference action. The loss ends the Cougars season.
"It was a good win but we didn't communicate well in the match," Vikings head coach Leshaun Jenkins said. "It is typical of high school players though because we have been playing well the last three weeks coming into the match. It may just be my fault because we didn't come out fired up like we usually do."
The match was a little different for the Vikings because they are used to playing on a lot bigger field then what the Cougars play on.
Jenkins told his team coming into the game that he knew it was going to be a game of boom ball because of the size of the field and he wanted his players to make the shorter passes then what they were used to making and try to control the tempo. They didn't respond well in the first half to their coaches plan, but were able to score two goals.
With just eight minutes into the match, Tyler Harris headed the ball up towards the Cougars goal and found teammate David Guevara on the back post, who punched it in from five feet out to give Tarboro a 1-0 lead.
The Cougars responded six minutes later when Zach Groover rebounded a loose ball in front of the Vikings goal and tapped it past Tarboro goalie Travis Martin to tie the game up at 1-1.
Three minutes later and after a lot of direction from Jenkins, the Vikings responded right back when Will Dupree dribbled past three Cougar defenders and blasted a shot past Cougar goalie Nick Harrison from the left side to give Traboro the 2-1 lead.
Jenkins wasn't happy with his teams first half performance and had his team running during halftime to try and get their intensity level a little higher and get their minds in the match. he told them that he wasn't pleased and that they better step it up because they play was unacceptable.
The talk worked, because five minutes into the second half, Joey Lancaster took a pass from teammate Luis Oviedo and punched it in to give Tarboro all the cushion they needed with a 3-1 lead.
"We stepped it up in the second half," Jenkins said. "We got tough during that stretch and I am proud of them for that and for getting the win."
Tarboro outshot SouthWest 27-10.
Martin finished with eight saves while Harrison had 15.
"The game was closer then what the score indicated," Cougars head coach Joel Elliott said. "The passes we were making were the passes I have wanted us to make all season. We did make some mistakes that led to some goals for them but I was pleased with our performance."
Elliott was pleased with the way his team performed the majority of the game, but said they fell apart late in the match when Tarboro took advantage of several Cougar miscues.
Elliott said the season was not what he was expecting from his players, but he wasn't upset with the guys he has. He said his team has grown during the season and are very well mannered young men. He was pleased with the way his team finished the season, because they started out shaky, but came around towards the end and were in almost every game down the stretch. He said he was just happy with the way the season went overall.
The Vikings will wait and see who they will play in the playoffs that will start in a week.
"We are still a little bit young going into the playoffs and are still trying to find ourselves in certain places," Jenkins said. "I think it is going to be a good experience for some of the kids who haven't played on that level before."
Jenkins has carried his team to the playoffs every year since he has taken over the Vikings soccer program.