By VAN HOLLAND
Tarboro Vikings coach Leshaun Jenkins believes he has the best team in the Eastern Plains Conference this season. Monday they accomplished a goal that they set early in the season, which was to beat the Beddingfield Bruins. The 14th ranked Vikings checked that goal off their list when they shutout the Bruins 3-0.
Tarboro (8-1-1, 1-0) beat the Bruins in every offensive stat available and showed why Jenkins believes his team is the best in the conference. Tarboro took 20 shots on goal compared to the Bruins 16. The Vikings controlled the tempo the majority of the match and kept Beddingfield off the scoreboard.
"We played well all around soccer and I was pleased with everyone's performance...especially my defense," Jenkins said. "I told them before the match if we got up on them then they would break. That's exactly what we did and we executed our offense."
Jenkins had been preparing his team for this match for over two weeks and knew they would have their hands full against the Bruins. He said his defense was a major reason they were able to be successful against them. Beddingfield had numerous chances to score on breakaways, but the Vikings defense collapsed and found a way to contain the Bruins offense. Tarboro goalie Courtney Perkins was a big contributing factor. She had 12 saves.
On numerous occasions Chandler Harris and Anna Johnson stepped up and stopped the Bruins from driving toward the goal. Two other times, Kailyn Norville made aggressive stops to help contain the Bruins.
"Our defense stepped up to the challenge and helped us get the shutout," Jenkins said. "I told them before the game that you might get tired, but stick it out and clear the ball when they try to come in to score. I told them to keep it ugly and that would disrupt their system."
Shayla Thorne scored two goals and Julie Hayes added another. Thorne has scored 26 goals this season and Hayes has added 14.
Jenkins believes his two offensive threats are the best in the conference. They have their minds set that they can win the conference outright and go undefeated in the conference to earn a good playoff seed where they can play the first couple of matches at home.
The Vikings are well on their way to doing that, because Monday was just the fifth match of the season where they had played a full 80-minute match.
A new rule was implemented this year that if a team gets ahead by nine goals then the match is determined to be a complete game. Tarboro has beat teams five times since that ruling was put into effect.
"Our conditioning and mental toughness helped us get through the match," Jenkins said. "They achieved my expectations in this match and I am very pleased with our overall performance. I liked the way we worked through things and got it done."
Hayes scored the first goal in the 32nd minute of the match when she received a pass from Katie King which came through the Bruin defenders and Hayes punched it in front the back post.
Leading 1-0 in the second half, Thorne went to work as she has all season for the Vikings. She dribbled toward her right and crossed the ball over to her left and blasted the shot past the Bruins goalie from about 15 yards out. Two minutes later, Thorne found an open space again from about the same spot and chipped the ball over the goalie's head with her right foot this time for her second of the match to give the Vikings a comfortable 3-0 lead.
"We have two great offensive players upfront for us who attack the goal well," Jenkins said. "Julie and Shayla know when they have daylight they are suppose to rip shots anytime they have the opportunity."
With Tarboro on a roll, they have to make an adjustment today when they travel to play their county rival SouthWest Edgecombe Cougars. The Cougars play on a much smaller field then Tarboro does and Jenkins knows his team will have to adjust and play quicker then what they are used to playing.
The match will begin at 5 p.m.