Southside hopes to build chemistry on long road swing

Published 1:25 pm Monday, September 4, 2017

CHOCOWINITY — Jario Juarez is the lone player back from a Southside forwards corps that scored 82 goals last season. Offensive potency helped carry the Seahawks to the playoffs, but they’re without two of the three players that scored double-digit goals.

Southside lost captain Fabian Palacios Ramirez, who netted 11 goals. Junior Luke Matthews suffered a knee injury before the season. His 18 goals led the team in 2016. Juarez found twine 16 times as a freshman and assisted on 14 more goals, but there’s been a bit of a learning curve for the new-look striker unit.

Junior Santiago Lengyel Serralde has stepped up and into a larger role this season. Six games in, he’s already surpassed his goal total from last season’s 15 appearances. He netted the first goal in Southside’s last outing against Farmville Central. It was Juarez’s shot off the far post late in the game that broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the Seahawks to the win.

“The offense is coming around slowly but surely,” coach Jay Petty said. “I think it’s because I’ve got so many new players going forward that they’re getting used to each other. … It looked a whole lot better (against Farmville Central) than it had been looking.”

Finding the same kind of offensive synergy they had last year will take the Seahawks some time. They’ll become increasingly familiar with one another the more time they spend on the field, but they’ll have to do so in hostile territory for the next two weeks. Southside plays its next four games on the road, and it starts with a rematch with the Jaguars at Farmville Central.

From there, the Seahawks travel to play consecutive 2-A foes in South Lenoir and Southwest Edgecombe. They’ve shown plenty of unselfishness up to this point, meaning offensive chemistry could go from a question mark to a strength in short time.

There were times against the Jaguars last week where forwards were eager to make an extra pass instead of take an open shot. This offense can become dangerous once the players have a better understanding of one another.

“If I can get a few of them to get more aggressive. I try to tell them if they get around the 18 to get aggressive and take it,” Petty said. “I really think it’s a chemistry thing.”

After this road stretch, Southside will return to host Southwest Edgecombe on Sept. 18. That will mark the beginning of a four-game home stand.