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ELIZABETHTOWN – Senior Jacob Nixon banged in the go-ahead goal on a header with 6:34 remaining that propelled East Bladen to a 3-1 non-conference boys soccer victory over previously undefeated North Brunswick Monday night.

“Jacob beat his man on a corner kick and finished off a perfect header,” said East Bladen Coach Jay Raynor. “Gabril Algozy placed a perfect ball right at the back post that Jacob was able to head in. Jacob became the vocal leader we needed tonight and made numerous plays in midfield.”

Senior Malcolm Bolden tacked on an insurance goal with 2:14 left to play off of a pass from senior Tyreon Graham. “Tyreon gave us that push we needed in the last 9-10 minutes,” noted Raynor. “Tyreon came off the bench to win several duels in midfield and provide us with some great scoring chances. Proud of him and his confidence.”

Raynor added, “Malcolm had a much improved second half and had some good looks that just missed. His best chance game on a great ball from Zac Metz that he was unable to get fully around on and slipped. His goal tonight was a tough shot to finish. That’s what he’s capable of doing when he makes his mind up that he’s going to do it.”

The teams were locked in a scoreless tie for almost 34 minutes until freshman Ronnie Covington came off the bench to score the game’s 1st goal for the Eagles 6:02 before halftime.

“Ronnie put their center back under pressure and came out of a tackle with the ball as the keeper was out of the goal,” stated Raynor. “Ronnie was able to control the ball enough to roll it in from just outside the penalty area.”

North tied the game a minute before halftime as sophomore Holland Miller turned an assist from junior Diego Dominguez into a Scorpion goal. “Well hit and well placed shot,” said Raynor. “Have to tip your cap on that.”

“At halftime we challenged our guys,” said Raynor. “They work hard and have a lot of fight in them. However, it hasn’t been consistent. Times we should be working hard to push the game and push the attack, we back off and let teams hang in there or back into the game. That’s dangerous. We have to capitalize on our chances and be more aggressive.”

Raynor continued, “Our guys off the bench brought it tonight. We sat some older guys for a good duration of the first half. We sat some talented players. At East Bladen it’s not about just being talented, it’s about out working your opponent and leaving it all on the field. The guys off the bench provided a spark and in my opinion, those guys changed the game.”

“Zach Sholar, Ronnie Covington, Andrew Musselwhite, and Tyreon Graham changed the game tonight,” noted Raynor. “Their energy as well as their effort helped us to win midfield at a time where it seemed North Brunswick was winning every 50/50 ball in midfield.”

East Bladen outshot the Scorpions 8-4 in the 1st half and 10-3 in the 2nd half.

“Our backs had a great night,” said Raynor. “I’m not sure there is anyone on the field that works as hard as Omar (Atkinson) and Nathan (Howell). They seemed to make play after play and were up and down the field all night. Lee (Barnes) always came up big in some tough positions and was forced to make several point blank saves. We put him in some bad situations but he does well in them.”

Raynor praised the ability of Zac Metz to fire the ball into the forwards in the final 15 minutes. “He played some dangerous balls into our forwards that forced North to set their backline a little deeper which helped us win the midfield. Playing bigger forces teams to drop because of our speed. That frees up our numbers in midfield.”

East Bladen improves to 2-3 on the season and will host Whiteville on Tuesday, September 6.

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