Tarboro blanks Rams
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on October 5, 2004 1:56 PM
SNOW HILL -- A slight change in midfield strategy still needs a little work, but veteran Tarboro boys soccer coach Leshaun Jenkins couldn't have been more pleased with the new scheme Monday evening.
Jenkins added an extra midfielder, Ezequiel Casarin, to help Andreas Garcia control possession of the ball and create more passing room. Garcia dished out two assists and Casarin tallied a second-half goal as the Vikings blanked Greene Central 2-0 in a Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference match.
Tarboro, the reigning EPC champion, exited 10-3-1 overall and 1-1 against league opposition. Meanwhile, Greene Central (4-7-2) dipped to 0-1-1 in the conference.
Neither team ruled the midfield during first-half play. Each team constantly lost possession of 50-50 balls and the Vikings fell victim to turnovers once they pushed the ball inside Greene Central's 18.
Arias and Garcia pushed the ball forward inside the penalty box, only to have teammates Horton Redhage and Victor Arias kick it back out. They failed to re-organize from the back and lost chances to take shots on goal.
"We slowed our attack and to be honest, I think that was confidence," Jenkins said. "Our last three or four games have been either ties or a loss, and we're just not playing confident soccer.
"Guys who would normally get that ball and explode through for shots outside the 18, they are passing up those shots."
The Rams doubled-teamed the Vikings inside the 18 at times and forced shots that were wide of the goal. Tarboro misfired on its first 10 attempts before breaking the scoreless tie in the 39th minute.
Garcia pushed a ball through the Greene Central defense and Arias ran onto it near the 6-yard box. Rams keeper Eric Mendez came straight off his line and didn't play the angle since Arias was setting up near the right post.
Arias fired a low strike to the back post and a diving Mendez just missed the glove save.
Greene Central took six shots on goal in the opening half. Hugo Trejo's blast outside the 18 hit the crossbar and Jonathan Mendez's shot hit the low portion of the right post.
"Our front three seem to miss by inches or it goes wide," veteran Rams coach Jose Garcia said. "That just comes with us getting experience so we can control our shots better. You expect that with freshmen and every time they shoot, you hope it ends up in the net.
"Hopefully, they'll learn from this because they are talented up there."
Tarboro sweeper Luis Alonzo had five defensive-back clears in the opening half and helped goalie Collins Miller keep the Rams off the board. The Rams have scored just two goals in the last 240 minutes (three games) of play and allowed 12.
"I was glad to see him have that kind of performance," Jenkins said of Alonzo. "He was very visible tonight and I was proud of the way he played."
Casarin and Garcia picked up their midfield possession in the second half and created space for Redhage and Arias, who dominated the wing play. Redhage missed all three of his shots on goal, but it was Casarin -- off a Garcia assist -- who gave the Vikings their 2-0 finale.
Jenkins praised his midfielders for their second-half performance and admitted the slight alteration to his offense proved beneficial.
"We've got kids who can play here and there, but we haven't had a true midfielder in a while," Jenkins said. "We have gone to two midfielders because we don't have the one kid who can dominate the midfield, so we're using a high midfielder and low midfielder."
The Vikings lose a forward in that scheme, but still have someone attacking the goal. Coach Garcia agreed the visitors' second-half play in the midfield helped decide the outcome.
Tarboro owned an 18-14 edge in shots on goal and led 4-3 in corner kicks.
"In the second half, Tarboro came out strong," he said. "They were finding their passes, clean shots and lot of times my guys were over-running the ball when they had a clean pass.
"As soon as Tarboro found somebody, they delivered it one person who delivered it to someone else."
Tarboro 1 1 -- 2
Greene Central 0 0 -- 0
THS -- Victor Arias (Andreas Garcia assist), 39:00
THS -- Ezequiel Casarin (Garcia assist), 68:00
THS G. Central
18 Shots on goal 14
4 Corner kicks 3
5 Offsides 0
8 Fouls 6
Saves -- Tarboro -- Collins Miller 6. Greene Central -- Eric Mendez 8.
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