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Girls Soccer: East Bladen 2, Whiteville 1

WHITEVILLE – Freshman Kenia Medina fired in a penalty kick with 5 minutes left to play that lifted East Bladen to a key 2-1 Three Rivers Conference girls soccer victory over Whiteville.

“Kenia tucked it away perfectly in the right corner,” said East Bladen Coach Jay Raynor. “I knew she could do it and she deserved that opportunity. There was no doubt in my mind that she was going to bury it.”

The penalty kick was set up when sophmore Patience Ward took a pass from sophmore Gracyn Martin and beat 2 Whiteville defenders before being pulled down in the box.

“We had made an adjustment at halftime to move Patience to the inside so she could get some runs at the heart of their backline,” said Raynor. “Patience is so fast and athletic that I knew she could beat their backline if she had the chance to make that run. Her speed paid off.”

Whiteville had some chances in the final five minutes and a collision in the box led to a corner kick. “They bulldozed Cybil (Campbell) and Ting (Lin), and Ting (the East goalie) had to leave the game,” stated Raynor.

“That was a tough moment!” continued Coach Raynor. “Patience asked to go in goal so I let her. I have seen her rebound for Coach (Patty) Evers and figured if she wanted it she could do it. Sure enough as the ball is played in she jumps and pulls it right out of the air. She’s something else! Love her enthusiasm and passion that she plays with.”

The Lady Eagles scored their first goal in the second minute of the game. Junior Ashton Magby took a ball that was redirected by senior Hannah Devane and put it into the top right corner of the goal.

Whiteville tied the game three minutes before halftime. An Eagle mishit went right to a Lady Wolfpack player who hit it into the net.

“We are banged up pretty good, but my girls don’t quit and keep fighting through,” said Coach Raynor. “Sarah Johnson was huge for us. She has been out with a back injury and wasn’t sure if she could play in the second half.”

Raynor continued, “Sara Gargala went down with a knee injury and was replaced by Lily Lin. Lily killed it! I am so proud of her! She went into the 8 spot (holding midfield) probably one of the hardest positions within our system and she balled out. She made big play after big play.”

Coach Raynor also talked about Ashley Hardin’s contribution on the bench even though she is out with an injury, “Ashely was a tremendous help tonight. Without her there I’m not sure what I would’ve done. She had so much information from her perspective when she was playing. So she may be out for now but she was huge tonight for her team.”

“I am so proud of these young ladies,” said Raynor. “They have so much heart, fight, and determination. They love each other and pick each other up. Just look at the girls who are stepping up. Lily, Ashton, and Bailey (Davis) were subs a few weeks ago and now are difference makers and getting tons of minutes.”

East Bladen outshot Whiteville 17-10. “Ting had to make just about as many saves tonight as she has all season.,” noted Raynor. “Cybil played another phenomenal game. Katie (Evans) and Hannah gave everything they had in the midfield and up top. Gracyn and Izzy (Smith) controlled the left side and both came up big with major stops and goal scoring chances.”

“I’m pretty sure we were being over looked tonight,” said Raynor. “Everyone knows we are banged up. We lost a major player for us and had several more major players injured. The only issue with that mindset is that this group is a team who believes in each other and the system. These girls understand the system, they don’t quit, and love to see each other succeed!”

The victory keeps East Bladen unbeaten at 11-0 in league play and 14-0 overall. The Lady Eagles now own a 2-game lead over second-place Whiteville. East Bladen will travel to West Columbus Friday for a 4 p.m. match.

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