Second-half surge leads Southside to victory

Published 9:18 pm Friday, October 12, 2018

TARBORO — A rocky start saw Southside fall behind early to Tarboro on Wednesday and take a tied score line into the halftime break, but the Seahawks responded with a five-goal second half to win, 6-1, and push its winning streak to eight games.

The victory was Southside’s (13-1, 3-0 1A Coastal Plains Conference) third in conference play this season, but a victory over Tarboro (4-8-1, 1-2 1A CPC) didn’t seem so certain in the early moments of the match. Southside head coach Jay Petty said his team’s “slow and sluggish” start was possibly due to a number of reasons, including the fact Tarboro has improved a lot from last year.

“Tarboro has improved drastically from where they were last year, so it might’ve been a little bit of a shock to us too. Most of my kids remember playing Tarboro last year, and they’ve gotten a whole lot better than what they were. So, it took us a little bit of time to get adjusted,” Petty said. “We also saw a little bit different defense than we’ve seen (so far this season). Most teams we’ve played play a flat back four, and we saw a sweeper/stopper combination, which took us a little bit of time to figure out.”

The Vikings actually struck first in Wednesday’s game. Taking advantage of some miscommunication between Seahawk goalkeeper Johan Prado and his backline, a Tarboro forward flicked the ball into the net, giving Tarboro an early 1-0 lead.

The Vikings had obviously done their homework, as they tightly marked Luke Matthews, who had a team-high 24 goals going into the contest. The issue for Tarboro though, was that left plenty of space for Jairo Juarez to run amok. The junior tied the game, winning the ball 30 yards out from goal, before beating several defenders to go in alone with the Tarboro goalkeeper and calmly finishing to even the score.

The two teams went into the break tied at 1-1, which was when Petty gave his team some constructive criticism.

“I told them at halftime, I just said, ‘you guys are playing a little slower than you normally are used to playing.’ And they came right out in the second half, picked up the pace, picked up the speed and just went to town,” Petty said.

The Seahawks were obviously paying attention to their coach, as they scored in the opening minutes of the second half. Once again Juarez took advantage of all the attention the Vikings were placing on Matthews, picking up a loose ball, beating the final defender and shooting past the goalie to take a 2-1 lead.

Once Juarez put two goals into the net, Tarboro focused on stopping him, freeing up Matthews to score four goals in the second half. His first came right after Juarez’s final goal, cleaning up a rebound in the box, and he added three more throughout the half. Jaime Guzman picked up an assist playing a give-and-go with Matthews, before Southside’s leading scorer closed out the game with a penalty kick he earned when the Tarboro goalie brought him down in the box.

The Seahawks hit the field again on Monday, when they host Riverside (9-2-3, 4-0 1A CPC), the only other team still undefeated in conference play. The winner will be in pole position to win the conference with the season winding down.

“The one thing I warned them of (heading into the match against Riverside) was our earlier failure against Farmville Central. We just lost it in those last few minutes. And I just told them, ‘we got to play 80 good minutes of soccer. It’s not gong to be one where we can just let our guard down or relax,” Petty said. “So, if I can get 80 good minutes of soccer out of them, I’m hoping that we’re successful.”