"I can't take losing when we are making a bunch of mental mistakes" is part of the speech Tarboro Lady Vikings soccer coach Leshaun Jenkins gave his team after their 2-1 double overtime loss to the Beddingfield Lady Bruins Wednesday at Indian Lake Sports Complex. This was the second time this season that the Bruins have defeated Tarboro. The first time the two teams met Beddingfield won 4-0.
With the loss the Vikings fall to second place. With a win they would've been tied for first place with the Bruins. To have a chance to be co-champions they have to win the remainder of their Eastern Plains Conference matches and hope someone in the conference can defeat the Bruins.
"The mental mistakes I was talking about was being second to the ball on a loose ball," Jenkins said. "Covering the ground that we are suppose to cover when we are playing defense and not letting another player penetrate to the goal to get off a shot. Yes, I can deal with losing, but not when we make the simple mental mistakes that we made."
With two minutes left in the second overtime, Beddingfield took a shot on goal that was deflected by a Tarboro defender and it rolled 35 yards out in front of the goal. Bruins' mid-fielder Kayla Talton got control of the ball and took another shot on goal from 35 yards out and the ball sailed over Vikings goalie Courtney Perkins' head to give Beddingfield a 2-1 lead.
"She is a sophomore and it was just a mental mistake with the lack of confidence when she didn't make the decision to jump up and knock the ball over the goal," Jenkins said. "Having a lack of experience is the key part of them scoring that goal. She is a good goalie and has made some good saves for us this year."
Perkins had 24 saves in the match.
With nine minutes left in the first half, Tarboro finally stole the momentum from Beddingfield after they had controlled the majority of the first half. Shayla Thorne found Julie Hayes breaking towards the goal and slipped a pass through the Bruins defense and Hayes found the back of the net with her right foot to give Tarboro a 1-0 lead.
The lead didn't last long. Beddingfield took the ensuing possession and marched right down the field on Tarboro. Bruins forward Malika Connor found a seam and drove towards the goal and took a shot from 20 feet out and the ball went to the left of Perkins and wrapped around the goal post to tie the game at 1-1. The possession didn't take but a little over a minute for the Bruins to answer right back.
Jenkins was hoping his team would get a break in the second half and hopefully get Thorne or Hayes to get a fast break around the Bruins defenders and possibly get a shot to squeak by the Bruins goalie. Things didn't work out like Jenkins had hoped they would though, because his team didn't take a shot on goal in the second half.
Beddingfield took 14 shots on goal in the second half and 28 for the match. Tarboro took only 12 shots then entire match.
"We didn't play as aggressive as I thought we should have in some areas which came back to hurt us," Jenkins said. "We weren't aggressive enough at the mid-field like we should have been, because we didn't do a good job of reading their defense."
Coach Jenkins is pleased with his teams overall performance thus far in the season. He said this is an investment season for his young team. He is proud of his team, because they are trusting him as a coach and trusting his system that he has installed into the program.
He said "if they can play this way as freshman, sophomores and juniors then look at what talent level we will be on next year after a years experience. These girls have learned a lot this year and have picked up on their skills at a fast pace."
Jenkins continued on to say that this is the fourth or fifth game that his girls should have won this year.
Losing a game is tough for Jenkins, because he has been so successful on the varsity level with his boys program and he isn't use to losing close games or in double overtime. Jenkins told his girls after the game that they have to believe in themselves if they want to be successful. He thinks his girls just need a lift with their confidence and he can get them to a higher level.
Jenkins knows about the higher levels when it comes to winning. He has guided his Vikings program to nine conference championships and has has carried his team to the elite-eight in the NCHSAA 2-A state playoffs.
"When it comes to planting the seeds of a championship team it is easy to me, because I have seen it," Jenkins said. "I have been a part of that. So when I tell them they have to believe in themselves it is just trying to give them confidence, because they haven't been on this level of the stage before. I just want them to get to the point where people can talk about our program and say their program is good."