BETHEL – Key defensive plays on both sides and missed opportunities on goal during regulation Monday night forced the Tarboro Vikings and North Pitt Panthers to go into double overtime to see who could come out on top in an important Eastern Plains Conference showdown.
Both teams battled the entire match and during both 10 minute overtime periods, but it was the Panthers who found an open player with 1:58 left to play and got the shot on goal togo and give them the 1-0 victory over Tarboro. This was the second time that the Panthers defeated the Vikings this season. Tarboro falls to 5-5-1.
"We have been playing well lately and I was proud of my guys for the way they played the entire match," Jenkins said. "We are continuing to learn and grow each day. We need to continue playing like this and we will be alright."
Jenkins thinks his team is much better then they were at the beginning of the season, but still has some work to do in several spots, but overall he is pleased with the way his team has come together.
"Some of our younger guys are beginning to step up for us," Jenkins said. "I am really liking what I am seeing as of late. I am pleased with how our system has finally come together."
Jenkins wasn't pleased with losing in double overtime, but says he thinks his team played well. He knows he was going to have years like this where he was going to have to build the program back up. He thinks the seeds are being planted now and the team is instilling on what they need to be successful.
North Pitt controlled the ball the first five minutes of the match, but Tarboro turned the momentum in their favor after the Panthers took 10 shots on goal during that span. The Vikings back defensive line wouldn't give way to the Panthers offense and continuously cleared the ball out which gave Tarboro numerous break away opportunities, but they just couldn't find a good open shot.
With 27 minutes left in the first half, Vikings midfielder David Guevara took a pass from Joey Lancaster and beat both Panther defenders but just couldn't get enough on the shot and the North Pitt goalie saved it.
North Pitt took advantage of the Vikings missed shot opportunity and began to take the momentum back from the Vikings. The Panthers reeled off four straight shots on goal, but Vikings goalie Travis Martin shut them down. Both teams played back and forth the remainder of the half.
At halftime, Jenkins gave his team a pep talk and told them that just one goal would win the match so all his team had to do was control the tempo and find a decent shot on goal and score.
His team listened. They controlled the ball the majority of the second half. They took 10 shots on goal in the first eight minutes of the second half and that forced North Pitt's defense to get frustrated. Their coach moved six people back on defense after that because Tarboro was controlling to ball.
With 14 minutes left in the match, Guevara had an opening between him and the Panther defenders and made a move and went around them. He set his feet and blasted a shot on goal, but the ball sailed over the goal.
Tarboro had six more chances during the remainder of regulation, but just couldn't get off a good shot.
After 80 minutes of play, Tarboro had taken 18 shots on goal and North Pitt had taken 27.
Before overtime began, Jenkins told his team that they needed to continue to keep the momentum and force the Panthers defense to continue to work. He said all they needed was just one good look and that could determine the outcome of the match.
Just two minutes into the first overtime period, senior Will Dupree took a pass from Guevara from about 15 yards out and had no one between him and the Panther goalie. Instead of dribbling in closer, Dupree turned and fired a shot on goal that sailed high above the goal.
Jenkins yelled to his team that they needed to get closer towards the goal when they had wide open opportunities like that.
It wouldn't matter, because they didn't get another chance on an open shot like that again.
With just 1:58 left in the second overtime, North pitt took advantage of a Vikings defensive blunder. Octavio Jimenez found Dylan Bowen wide open on the back side of the goal and made a great pass that got through the Vikings defense and Bowen punched it in pass Martin's extended hands to give the Panthers the 1-0 lead.
Tarboro has five more matches left before they get into the conference tournament. Jenkins has either won the conference tournament or a regular season championship during the last 10 years.
They will be back in action today when they host the Farmville Central Jaguars.
Tarboro defeated the Jaguars 3-1 the first time the two teams met this season.