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Men’s Soccer: East Bladen 2, Lumberton 0

LUMBERTON – East Bladen defeated Lumberton 2-0 Thursday night in a non-conference men’s soccer game that was stopped in the 48th minute due to lightning.

East Bladen took a 1-0 lead in the eleventh minute off of a free kick from 50 yards out. “The boys executed the free kick very well,” said Eagle Coach Raynor. “Caleb Hatchell sent a perfect ball that Irvin Hernandez flicked to the back post and Pierce Melvin headed home.”

East Bladen kept the ball on the Lumberton end for a majority of the first half, but Eagle goalie Spencer Scott had to make 2 saves. “We moved the ball well and did a good job staying disciplined and working within our system,” noted Raynor. “I thought we held our shape and controlled the midfield fairly well.”

Junior Brooks McGill fired in the second goal from 28 yards out 6 minutes into the second half. “We won a free kick and Brooks caught them off guard and put away a solid shot,” stated Raynor. “Our awareness on the field has generated us several goals. Brooks and the guys played quick and didn’t let them get set. Pretty cool to see your guys execute things like that because they are focused and involved in the game – not ball watching.”

Shortly after the goal the game was suspended for lightning. After multiple delays and the rain and wind coming in hard the game was abandoned but was an official match.

Scott totaled 3 saves in the game and was credited with the shutout. “He played big and those 3 were big saves,” said Raynor. “He turned 2 away and pushed them outside of the posts for his backline to clear. He’s a heck of player and was proud of him as well as his backline tonight. Dan (Tatum), Ezequiel (Arteaga), and Keshaun (Davis) had really good games for us tonight.”

“Our offense wasn’t able to generate goals outside the set pieces but kept the pressure on their backline a majority of the time,” said Raynor. “We have figured out a rotation that has helped get players time in positions that make us play at a high level for an extended amount of time. Caleb, Josh (Pope), (B. J. (Monroe) and Irvin gave us some great minutes tonight.

“Greyson (Heustess), Brooks, and Garrett (Melvin) held their own tonight,” continued Coach Raynor. “They were a more physical team and that took some time to get adjusted to. Once we got adjusted we found our comfort zone and found a way to play a solid brand of soccer. Brooks was able to pester them with his speed while Greyson was able to play a physical brand of soccer that he is capable of playing at.

“Jake (Evans) is a complete player and works hard when he’s on the ball and harder when he’s off of it,” said Raynor. “He helps create things and elevate pressure for us so well in the midfield. The things he does can go unnoticed if you don’t know the game.”

“Pierce and Gabe (Barber) had wonderful games in the midfield,” said Raynor. “We controlled the flow more tonight than the Midway game. Our spacing was better although it still needs some improvement. Those 2 looked very comfortable tonight and have a good understanding of how each other play.

“Very proud of the guys and their continued improvement,” added Raynor. “We scored 2 goals on set pieces tonight…. that’s a good feeling. If you can win that category in the match you have a really good chance of getting the result. We were +2 in that category tonight and got the result.

“The more numbers we can put in scoring positions the better chances we have to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Raynor. “It all boils down to understanding and chemistry. Tonight was a step in the right direction.

“The guys were smart and disciplined tonight,” concluded Raynor. “For the first time since I can remember I was able to sit back and watch the game. They relied on their training and went out and did what they were supposed to do.”

The Eagles, now 2-0, will host Midway Wednesday.

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