04/17/2024
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ELIZABETHTOWN – Senior Maya McDonald fired in a pair of goals to lead unbeaten East Bladen to a 4-0 Southeastern Athletic Conference girls soccer victory over Midway Wednesday night.

“It wasn’t our best performance tonight,” said East Bladen Coach Jay Raynor. “We out shot Midway 31-2 and had the advantage on set pieces (corner kicks and free kicks) but didn’t make the most of those chances. Credit goes to their goal keeper. We tested her and she came up huge at times. Most of our shots were hit right at her but she made some amazing saves.”

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Photos by Kenneth Armstrong

McDonald banged in the opening goal of the game in the 9th minute of play off of an assist from freshman Iveonna “NeNe” Ward.

“We had to adjust and move some pieces around,” stated Raynor. “Nene had an outstanding night for us even with playing her out of position. Midway played Maya and Nene tight and we were getting looks, but they were met by 2 and 3 defenders on each run they made. Sliding Nene to the wing forced Midway to account for her speed and stretched them out, creating space and gaps for us to get into.”

Sophomore Heidi Rebollar drilled in a penalty kick 29:18 before halftime to pad the Lady Eagle lead to 2-0. “Heidi had a solid night for us in midfield,” noted Raynor. “She is key to our attack and getting it going.

Raynor continued, “Acee (Campbell) had a great night in midfield. I thought she did an outstanding job keeping the game in front of her. At times she was put in tough situations being numbers down and she came out of those winning the ball and stopping their attack.”

Freshman Jackie Medina-Leal knocked in the 3rd Lady Eagle goal with 14:14 left in the half, and McDonald closed out the scoring with her 2nd goal 8 minutes later.

“Our backline of Molly (Evans), Merritt (Martin), and Zoe (Smith) were solid tonight,” stated Raynor. “It’s our 5th shutout in a row and those girls are major reasons for that. Reese (Hester) had to make 2 saves and her punts looked good tonight.”

Raynor added, “It was great to get a win over a quality opponent like Midway. Big conference win for us. However, our play was not how we typically play. We did things that go against our style and how we want to play. It’s bigger than misplayed balls, an errant pass here or there, or even missed shots. It’s going against our principles of play and not doing our jobs that is unacceptable. That is on me and I need to do better. Our intensity was not there and neither was our energy collectively as a team.”

“I thought we took advantage of their high line at times and just didn’t capitalize on those chances as we usually do,” Raynor said. “We will polish a few things up tomorrow and hopefully will bring a little more to the table on Friday.”

The Lady Eagles improved to 7-0 in SAC-7 play and 10-0 overall and will travel to Midway Friday night.

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