WHITEVILLE – Freshman Maya McDonald lit up the scoreboard with all 5 East Bladen goals Monday night to lead the Lady Eagles to a 5-2 girls soccer victory over Whiteville that moved East into sole possession of first place in the Three Rivers Conference.
McDonald racked up a ‘Hat Trick’ plus two with her 5 goals. McDonald converted a pass from senior Ashley Hardin into a goal in the 19th minute. Whiteville answered with a tying goal, before McDonald knocked in her second goal off of a pass from sophmore Katie Evans to put East Bladen ahead 2-1 in the 37th minute.
“I thought Whiteville outplayed us at times in the first half,” said Lady Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “They had several good looks that just missed or we turned away. We seemed to be on our back foot at times.”
At halftime Coach Raynor changed the Lady Eagles’ formation from a 3-4-3 to a 3-5-2. “Whiteville had been able to play some passes between our midfielders,“ noted Raynor. “Adding an additional player and that player being Ashley changed the game.”
Raynor continued, “Sliding Ashley into midfield helped Katie and Sydney (Wober). Sydney was another key in our being able to link the midfield to our frontline. I thought we dominated the midfield in the second half. Ashley and Katie did outstanding jobs.”
Three minutes into the second half McDonald fired in a goal off of another Hardin assist for a 3-1 lead. Five minutes later junior Patience Ward sent a pass to McDonald that she banged past the keeper for a 4-1 lead.
“Patience and Maya kept the pressure on all night,” said Raynor. “Patience made run after run down their right and occupied multiple defenders which left Maya in a few one-on-one situations that she was able to dominate.”
McDonald corralled a loose ball after a free kick and sent it into the net in the 59th minute to boost the lead to 5-1. Whiteville scored on a break-away in the 72nd minute.
“Kenia (Medina) had a tall task and went head to head with their leading goal scorer,” noted Raynor. “Our backline held them in check for the most part. They did convert on our mistakes, but other than that they played well in the back.”
The Lady Eagles outshot Whiteville 21-9. “Cybil (Campbell), Gracyn (Martin) and Sarah (Johnson) all had big performances in shutting down their attack,” said Raynor. “Ting (Lin) made some big stops down the stretch.”
Raynor concluded, “ I know we can play better but I feel good knowing that we got Whiteville’s best and didn’t back down. Proud of my girls! They stepped up and were resilient. We aren’t used to physical games but we hung in their and didn’t let it get the best of us.”
Hardin finished with 2 assists, and Ward and Evans had one assist each.
The Lady Eagles improved to 5-0 in the league and 7-0 overall and will host Red Springs Wednesday night.