ST PAULS – Senior Chase Starkloff drilled in the game-winning goal on a penalty kick in overtime as East Bladen edged St. Pauls 2-1 Monday in Southeastern Athletic Conference boys’ soccer action.
The penalty kick came when junior Malcolm Bolden was fouled on a run into the box. “As he cut to beat the defender on his right another defender plowed into him from behind,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “It was a hard foul and no question about it being a PK.
“It took some wind out of them and was a gut shot,” continued Raynor. “That PK shifted momentum a little and helped us survive the next overtime. St. Pauls would have the better looks in the second overtime and got behind us several times. This was a great win for the guys and the program tonight.”
The Bulldogs netted the game’s initial goal in the 1st half. “They were living in front of our goal and had shot after shot after shot,” stated Raynor. “It was a hard hit well placed shot. Nothing Lee (Barnes) could’ve done about it. We were slow to close on the ball and apply pressure and we paid for it.
“We had some chances in the first half but they held the edge on shots as well as possession,” noted Raynor. “I thought we played well in the first half. We made some personnel moves in the first half that helped us going into the second half.
“Blaine Pope came off the bench and played probably 90 of the 100 minutes,” said Raynor. “He has a motor and was able to disrupt their play in the midfield. Blaine with Jacob Nixon behind him was a great combination. Jacob was able to pick up some errant passes or deflections caused by Blaine and relieve their pressure.”
Raynor continued, “Chase was Chase and seemed to answer everything that was thrown at him. He showed a lot of guts and leadership. His desire to make his teammates better and push them is something special. Without that, this game goes a different direction. Jaime Delgado played a phenomenal game tonight. He was solid.”
Bolden sent a long throw after halftime that went deep into St. Pauls territory. “We did our jobs and created chaos in the net that led to a equalizing goal,” said Raynor. “Eric Hildago was in the area and initially flicked towards the back post. Not sure if he scored it or if his flick hit off one of their defenders. Regardless, Malcolm made a great throw and Eric as well as everyone in the box did what’s asked of them and tied up the game.
“The play of the game for us that turned the game and gave us some momentum was a save by Lee on a corner kick,” stated Raynor. “We had discussed their kicks and them playing to the back post in our pre-game. They hit a perfectly hit ball into the back post and had an opportunity on goal. Lee and several others were able to save it a couple of times before Lee was finally able to pick it up and get the ball out to Malcolm who beat 3 or 4 players and hit a shot off the post. That sequence gave us some fire and energy at a time when we needed it.”
Raynor added, “Lee was huge for us tonight. He made numerous saves that were not routine saves. They tested him all night and he came up big every time. Nathan (Howell) and that defense group are tough. I knew they would battle to the end. Zac Metz and Jaime did a great job on the left as did Nathan on the right.
“Malcolm helped us tremendously up top and checking back into the midfield. He was able to get others involved and make some plays,” said Raynor. “Sammy Valerio, Ishmael Arteaga, Eric Hildago, and Chace Butler brought us energy and different looks in the midfield. All of those guys had great games tonight. Joel Johnson also had a great game.They rallied behind each other and got a hard earned result.”
The Eagles, now 2-0 in league play and 6-2 overall, will host Midway Wednesday at 6 p.m.