FOR THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
PINETOPS – Since Leshaun Jenkins took over the Tarboro Vikings soccer program he has only lost to SouthWest Edgecombe once. The scare of the second loss came Thursday when his team got down 1-0 in the first half. The Vikings were forced to play in control mode in the second half to try and regain the momentum, after Jenkins gave them a stern ear full at halftime.
"I told them we were down a goal at halftime and I expected them to get it together," Jenkins said. "I wasn't mad about how we played in the first half, because the first 30 minutes I thought we played well. We didn't capitalize on the scoring opportunities like I thought we should have, but we stayed in the game."
Jenkins got his team's attention at halftime, because they came out and played like a totally different group in the second half. They took 22 shots on goal and controlled the ball the majority of the half. The finished with 32 shots on goal for the match.
Tarboro left Pinetops victorious after scoring two second half goals. Joe Miller added the first one and David Guevara added the second.
"We controlled the tempo in the second half like we should have," Jenkins said. "I thought we coasted in the first half so I decided to move some players around and it worked."
SouthWest wasn't in control of the match from the beginning, but they found a way to take the momentum and swing it their way. With just over nine minutes left before the half, David Jaimes and Ezequeil Manzo played a little give-and-go around the Tarboro defense. Manzo gave to Jaimes and Jamies dished it back to Manzo, who drilled a shot past Vikings freshman goalie Jordan Williams, to give the Cougars a 1-0 lead.
"That goal gave us a little boost," Cougars coach Kyle Blochl said. "We had diagnosed some things over the past couple of games and have worked on fixing them. Our midfielders played a good game for us today."
Blochl had been working with his team on controlling the center of the field. They did that the majority of the first half.
'When our offense gains confidence it gives our defense a rest," Blochl said. "Therefore we have a better overall team."
Cougars goalie Michael Parisher was the dominate factor for the Cougars. He kept the game close for them even though they lost. In the second half, Parisher recorded 11 saves. He had 20 for the match.
"Michael is a great goalie," Blochl said. "He does a good job at his position and is smart inside the box."
Tarboro played their style of soccer in the second half. After rotating players around at halftime, Jenkins had the group on offense that he thought would give him some good minutes. The coaching strategy paid off eight minutes into the second half.
On a corner kick possession, Jenkins put in a set play. He sent Miller up to play offense. Luis Oveido put a good ball up in the air and Miller flicked his head back on the ball and squeezed it past Parisher to tie the game 1-1.
"That set piece was a gut thing, because we were down at the time and had nothing to lose," Jenkins said. "I will sometimes bring some of my defenders up on situations like that. It's just a coaching thing for me and this time it paid off for us."
About seven minutes later, Guevara was one on one with a defender. Guevara stopped quickly, turned and fired a shot towards the goal with the heel of his foot. The ball rolled past Parisher's outstretched arms, which gave Tarboro the 2-1 lead.
"That shot David scored on, the heel flick, is something we work on at practice," Jenkins said. "Our offense played much better in the second half even though we didn't control the momentum the entire half."