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ELIZABETHTOWN – Junior Malcolm Bolden fired in a ‘Hat Trick’ of 3 goals Thursday night to lead East Bladen’s Eagles to a 5-0 victory over Whiteville in non-conference men’s soccer action.

It was Bolden’s 2nd Hat Trick of the season. The Eagles scored all 5 goals in the 1st half and outshot the Wolfpack 24-5 (11-2 in the 1st half).

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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

“Malcolm is playing at a high level,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “He is really bringing it. He scored 3 extraordinary goals tonight. Getting the right pieces in place and getting some chemistry will help him take his game to another level. He can’t do it himself and tonight it was good to see others be more involved and more confident.”

Bolden had his 2nd hat trick on the season. He opened the scoring in the 12th minute taking a feed from Jamie Delgado and drilling a low hard shot past the diving keeper. In the 28th minute, Jacob Nixon sent a pass to Bolden who curled the shot into right side from 16 yards out for a 2-0 Eagle lead.

Eight minutes later Tyreon Graham turned an assist from Johnny Ornales into a goal and a 3-0 East lead. ”Johnny sent a cross into the box that Tyreon took out of the air and finished it on time,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor.

In the 33rd minute, Blaine Pope pushed the lead to 4-0. “The ball was cleared away and he hit it solid from 30 yards out,” noted Raynor. “It was a great goal. Proud of Blaine and Tyreon. They are getting better each time out and are putting in the work. Things are starting to click for them.”

Bolden closed out the scoring 4 minutes later with his 3rd goal. “He ran into a through ball and dribbled the keeper before slotting it in from a tough angle on the right side,” said Raynor.

“I was impressed with the way we played in the first half,” stated Raynor. “I thought every goal we scored were legit goals that we created. Our attack looked the best it has all season. We were flying around and making plays. Talking and pressuring, then all running off of each other. By far the best half we have had on as well as off the ball.”

Raynor continued, “I didn’t do a good job of getting them prepared at halftime. That first 10 minutes of the second half belonged to Whiteville. We lost our edge/hunger. We were just flat.

“Lee (Barnes) came up big with 2 huge saves right out of halftime,” noted Raynor. “We put him in a bad situation several times and he bailed us out. He’s doing a great job and is getting more comfortable each time out. His play along with the work of our backline is allowing me to try some things up the field. Those guys (Lee, Nathan Howell, Chase Starkloff, and Zac Metz) are commanding the back which is allowing me to find the right positions/combinations of players up field.”

Raynor added, “I can’t speak enough about what Chase is doing for this team. Not only his play but he’s leadership is helping us progress faster than I what I thought we would. Jacob Nixon is another guy who has done nothing but help us in the midfield. He put himself in some positions to score tonight and just couldn’t get one in. I love what he brings to the midfield.

“Jamie Delgado had a great night for us as well,” said Raynor. “I thought Omar Atkinson also had an amazing night. If we all could play with the intensity and passion that he does, our level of play would go to another level.”

The Eagles improved to 2-1 on the season and will play at 1 p.m. Saturday on Field #5 at Wake Med Soccer Park against Spring Creek in the NCSCA Kickoff Classic.

Tickets to enter the event for families and supporters are 100% Electronic Tickets this year. The event is using the GoFan platform, and WILL NOT be selling paper tickets on site this year. Fans are encouraged to pre-purchase $7 tickets online at https://gofan.co/app/school/NC86449.

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