ELIZABETHTOWN – Senior Gabe Barber and freshman Malcolm Bolden combined to score 5 goals Monday night as East Bladen remained unbeaten in Three Rivers Conference boys soccer play with a 6-0 victory over Red Springs.
Barber racked up a ‘Hat Trick’ of 3 goals and Bolden tallied a ‘brace’ of 2 goals. Senior Jake Evans added a pair of assists to the Eagle attack.
Bolden opened the scoring with a goal off of a feed from Barber. “Malcolm was able to beat his defender and rocket a shot past the keeper,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “Malcolm’s speed and shiftiness caused Red Springs a lot of issues. It’s good to see him being physical and playing aggressive. His finishes were clinical and well placed.”
Just before halftime senior Angel Martinez was able to knock in a corner kick from Evans on the back post for a 2-0 Eagle lead.
“It was a tale of two halves,” noted Raynor. “I am disappointed in the way we played tonight especially the first half. We have gotten better every night out. Tonight was a step backwards in the first half that improved in the second half.”
Raynor continued, “Red Springs knocked the ball well and had us chasing the entire first half. We had a few guys playing hard but it takes more than a few and it has to be the team, not individuals.”
Barber padded the lead to 3-0 with a second half goal then immediately after the kickoff stole the ball and scored again, roughly 15 seconds after his first goal to push the lead to 4-0.
“Gabe had another great performance,” stated Raynor. “The second half was key for him. He calmed the game down and is finding the net right now. We needed that energy.” Barber’s ‘Hat Trick’ tied him for the conference lead in goals with 21.
Bolden’s 2nd goal upped the count to 5-0. “Malcolm beat the backline and calmly pushed the ball past the keeper,” said Raynor.
Barber earned his ‘Hat Trick’ converting a pass from Evans into a shot that he put past the keeper. “Jake was impressive and was having to play up and down the entire flank tonight going box to box,” said Raynor. “That’s a lot of work and he saved us a time or two on the backside.”
“The second half was much improved from the first,” noted Raynor. “We were able to get everyone on the same page at half and slow the game down a bit in the second. We had too many transitions in the first half and were running ourselves ragged.”
The Eagles outshot Red Springs 33-2 for the game. Junior Jacob Priest recorded the shutout in goal and was credited with one save.
“Jay McKoy was fouled hard several times and had to be subbed out,” said Raynor. “Freddy (Wooten) did well helping organize the back tonight as did Jacob. Chase (Starkloff) stepped up and did well coming in for Jay.”
“Proud of the guys for their second half performance,” concluded Raynor. “We talked about not being complacent or satisfied with where we are right now. The season and life is an ascension and we want to get better everyday.”
The Eagles improved to 13-0 in the TRC and 14-3-1 overall and will travel to West Bladen on Wednesday night.