Southside comes away with big win on Senior Night

Published 11:46 am Wednesday, October 24, 2018

CHOCOWINITY — Tuesday was a special night for the Southside soccer team, as it honored its graduating players with a Senior Night ceremony at halftime, and also became a step closer to completing its quest to win consecutive conference titles for the first time in school history by coming away with a 5-0 victory over Tarboro.

Southside (17-1, 7-0 1A Coastal Plains Conference) actually started out a little slow against Tarboro (6-10-1, 3-4 1A CPC), but the Seahawks were soon running on all cylinders, scoring three goals in a seven-minute span to take firm control of the game. Southside head coach Jay Petty said the focus on Senior Night probably played a part in the slow start, but he didn’t want to take away from the moment.

“The big thing tonight was we focused on Senior Night. We wanted to honor our seniors; we had nine of them this year. And some of them, I’ve been coaching since they were knee high to a grasshopper. It’s been a blast. So, we really just kind of focused on that tonight. And I think the fanfare kind of, we started a little slow and we just kind of had to get into our rhythm and everything,” Petty said. “They were all really excited before the game started, and I don’t want to say there wasn’t focus on the game. They wanted to play, but there wasn’t the intensity and the focus that I normally see out of them when they’re ready to play. They were all kind of having a good time with it, and I don’t ever want to take that away from them. You know, you get to be kids once, have Senior Night once.”

SEAHAWK SENIORS: Southside honored its seniors during halftime of Monday’s win over Tarboro with a Senior Night ceremony. From left to right: Luke Matthews, Carl Branch, Hunter Edwards, Owen Perry, Jared Carver, Brandon Nunez Flores, Kevin Prado, Santiago Lengyel Serralde and Michael Anaya. (Sean Finnerty | Daily News)

It took a little bit of time, but once the Seahawks started clicking, there wasn’t much the Vikings could do to stop them. The duo of senior Luke Matthews and junior Jairo Juarez once again led the way for Southside, as they combined to score the first two goals of the game. Thirteen minutes into the game, Juarez played a give and go with Matthews at the edge of the box, with Matthews back-heeling the ball to Juarez, putting him in all alone with the Tarboro goalkeeper. Juarez calmly finished to give Southside a 1-0 lead.

Just two minutes later, Juarez and Matthews combined again to double the Seahawks’ lead, but their roles were reversed. Juarez received the ball at midfield, dribbled past a Viking and played a through ball that Matthews ran onto and blasted near-post to make the score 2-0. Matthews turned provider again with 20 minutes left in the opening half, passing to Jaime Guzman in the Tarboro box, with Guzman slotting home for a 3-0 lead.

Matthews and Juarez combining to score loads of goals has been a theme for the Seahawks this season, and what Petty enjoys most about the two is how selfless they play.

“Just an amazing combination between those two guys, and again, the unselfishness between the two of them; that’s what’s just amazing, is they don’t really care who wins the scoring title or who gets the most assists. They want to win a ballgame and they’re extremely unselfish about it,” Petty said.

Southside continued its dominance in the second half, getting two more goals with Matthews and Juarez involved again. Seven minutes after the halftime break, Juarez sprung a lightning quick counter attack by playing a through ball to Matthews. Displaying the unselfishness Petty spoke about, Matthews then played the ball across the face of the goal, giving Guzman an easy tap-in. Matthews picked up another assist on the final goal, dribbling down the right, before cutting towards goal and finding fellow senior Santiago Lengyel Serralde for the first-time finish.

Southside next faces Riverside (11-3-3, 6-1 1A CPC) today in Williamston, with a win clinching the conference title for the Seahawks. Petty said he’s altering practice to prepare his players for the moment.

“We’re going to have a little bit of an inside practice and do a little bit of, I guess you’d say ‘head-game thing’ and make sure that my kids know that Wednesday night is going to be extremely important. And in the grand scheme of life, it may not be a big, big deal, but as I’ve told a lot of them up to this point, I said, ‘you don’t get these opportunities all that often and you need to take advantage of it when you do get them,’” Petty said. “So, that’s what really is going to be the focus tomorrow at practice and going into Wednesday night is, ‘you have an opportunity to do something again that the school has never done, be back-to-back conference champions, and, again, how many times in your lifetime do you get to play for a conference championship? You don’t want to waste the opportunity.’”