ELIZABETHTOWN – Senior Gabe Barber celebrated Senior Night with a ‘Hat Trick’ of 3 goals as East Bladen rolled to an 8-0 Three Rivers Conference boys soccer victory over West Columbus on Monday.
Barber also contributed 3 assists to the Eagle attack, and fellow senior Jake Evans dished out 3 assists and tallied one goal for East Bladen. Junior Garrett Melvin fired in 2 goals for the winners.
“Everyone had a fantastic game tonight,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “Jake, Gabe, and Garrett really brought it. Gabe with 3 (goals) and 3 (assists) says it all. He orchestrated our attack and is a leader on the pitch.”
Senior Jay McGill knocked in the first goal off of an Evans corner kick. “Jay set the tone scoring in the 2nd minute,” noted Raynor. “He puts himself in the right place and knows how to convert set pieces.”
Melvin turned a feed from Barber into a goal and a 2-0 East Bladen lead in the 24th minute. A minute later Barber banged in a header off of another Evans corner kick to pad the lead to 3-0.
East Bladen outshot the Vikings 15-2 in the first half and 35-2 in the game. “Jacob (Priest) came up big with 2 saves in the first half,” said Raynor. “One was point blank that he turned away.”
Freshman Malcolm Bolden beat the Viking backline and put away a shot off a feed from Barber to open the second half.
“Malcolm only had the one goal but dominated the right flank and played several good balls into the box,” stated Raynor. “Jake did the same on the left side of the field. Those two on both sides of the field is a nightmare for teams. Jake dominated and helped us getting into the attacking third and generating looks that lead to goals.”
Melvin pushed the lead to 5-0 with his second goal of the night. “Jay McKoy whipped a ball in from the right side that Angel (Martinez) flicked to Garrett who was able to score from close range,” said Raynor.
Barber booted in his second goal off of another pass from Evans. Barber returned the favor by playing a ball down the left side that Evans drilled low into the back corner from 20 yards out.
Barber completed his ‘Hat Trick’ with a pass from Jon Von Rupp that set up a shot from distance for the final goal and the 8-0 margin.
“Our play in the second half was unbelievable,” stated Raynor. “We did much better in the attacking 1/3 of the field. Had a lot of shots but they weren’t just thrown up or shots that we just hit. A majority of those just missed. I thought we put more quality shots on frame tonight than we have in a majority of the games all season.”
Raynor continued, “We are playing well and knocking the ball around. I thought the first half our emotions of the night got to us and we played too frantic. Once we settled the game and passed with a purpose and moved off the ball, the game really opened up.”
“Freddy (Wooten) brought it in the second half,” stated Raynor. “We feed off of his energy and I thought his play in the second half helped drive us to step our play up. Milton (Estrada) and Jay (McKoy) combined with Freddy to limit them to just 2 shots in the first half. Chase (Starkloff) was also a big part of that defensive unit throughout the game.”
“Angel (Martinez) and Jon (Von Rupp) worked well for us up top,” continued Raynor. “They do a lot that doesn’t make it into the score sheets. Their play moving off the ball and holding up play help us excel in the attacking 1/3.”
Gabe Barber, Jake Evans, Jay McGill, Ebrahim Algozy, Milton Estrada, Jon Von Rupp, Angel Martinez and Xavier McKoy were the 8 Eagle seniors who were honored along with their families at halftime.
“Extremely proud of these 8 Seniors and all that they have contributed to our program,” concluded Raynor. “They have put so much into the program and getting better. Nothing has been given to them and to be accomplishing what they are right now is due to their hard work and commitment to the program.”
Barber, Evans, McGill, Algozy and Estrada played 4 years of varsity soccer.
East Bladen improved to 11-0 in the Three Rivers and 12-3-1 overall. The Eagles travel to Whiteville on Wednesday night.Share: