12/07/2023
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BLADENBORO – Sophomore Tevin McClean banged in a ricochet in the final minute of play that lifted East Bladen to a 1-0 non-conference boys’ soccer victory over West Bladen Thursday night.

East Bladen won a throw-in with 1:30 left on the clock. “Jamie (Delgado) made the decision to run a different set piece on the throw,” shared East Coach Jay Raynor. “Great decision! Jamie got the throw back and put a shot on goal that their keeper made a play on but spilled it. Chace (Butler) toe-poked it off the keeper and it bounced to Tevin who finished it on the open goal.”

The Knights fired off 15 shots in the game. Freshman Alejandro Lopez Sandoval and junior Kevyn De La Cruz Labra totaled 4 shots each. Bryan took 3 shots. Sophomore Kevin Sebastian launched 2 shots, and junior Christopher Ramirez Labra and sophomore James Vasquez-Garcia had 1 shot each.

Ramirez Labra sparked the West defense with 14 steals. Senior Shaun ‘Walker” Barkley racked up 11 steals. Senior Levi German came up with 9 steals, and Lopez Sandoval followed with 8 steals. Bryan, De La Cruz Labra and Vasquez-Garcia finished with 5 steals each. Sebastian and senior Eddie Labra had 4 steals each.

Senior Oswaldo Gonzalez-Lopez recorded 11 saves in goal for the Knights.

“I thought we controlled the first 10 minutes of the game,” said Raynor. “But there was a span that we couldn’t win a ball in midfield. We went from defending and making saves and then gave the ball right back to do it all over again. We were fortunate we didn’t give up a goal during that span.”

East held a slim edge in shots in the 1st half. “We won more of the midfield in the second half,” noted Raynor. “I thought we made more looks at goal but the looks that West had were extremely dangerous.”

Raynor went on to praise the play of Colin King who “made a tremendous save” on the back post late in the second half against the Knights’ Jonah Bryan. “Jonah made a great run, went up and one timed the cross and Colin blocked the shot as it came off his foot,” said Raynor. “If he’s not covered, that’s a goal. That was an outstanding play that Colin made.”

“Everyone played well,” added Raynor. “Our keepers kept us in the game. Lee (Barnes) and Fernando (Rebollar) are two of the best in the state and they showed it tonight. Lee ‘s shot stopping ability and Fernando’s ability to make saves as well as stretch the field with his distribution opened the game up for us.”

Raynor went on to single out Jayce Hatcher and Debo Lewis in the back as well as Ronnie Covington and JD McArthur in midfield. “Zac Metz was a huge part of this win tonight,” noted Raynor. He was involved in all aspects of the game, During that time when West was all over our goal and our backs, Zac come up with numerous blocks and tackles.”

Raynor concluded, “Records don’t matter when East plays West. It’s going to be a battle. Especially at West, games are always a lot closer there and it’s a difficult place to play. It was a great game to be a part of and I’m sure to watch. It was a huge turnout tonight.”

“Both teams played well enough to win,” continued Raynor. “Both teams had chances they should’ve put away. Both teams hit the post and crossbar several times. Keepers from both teams made numerous game saving saves. We made one more play than they did and we got the result. Could’ve easily been the same for West.”

East Bladen, now 6-4, will visit Whiteville Monday. West Bladen, now 2-9, will entertain Clinton Monday.

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