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Men’s Soccer East Bladen 2, Purnell Swett 1

East Bladen High SchoolPEMBROKE – East Bladen rallied for a pair of second-half goals to defeat Purnell Swett 2-1 Monday night in the non-conference men’s soccer opener for both teams.

Sophmore Jafet Robles scored an early goal to give the Rams a 1-0 lead. “We misplayed a punt, and they got behind us and tucked it into the left side of the net,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor.

“We kept drumming up scoring chances, but couldn’t put them away in the first half,” stated Raynor. “We came out on fire and pressed the ball in the second half. We were able to win the ball high up the field which resulted in better looks on goal.”

Junior Gabe Barber scored the first East Bladen goal on a “gorgeous shot from distance that beat the keeper,” according to Coach Raynor.

One minute later, the Eagles won a throw-in to set up the go-ahead goal. “Pierce (Melvin) fired it behind their backline and Garrett (Melvin) one-timed it past the keeper,” said Raynor.

“Gabe’s goal brought the energy out of the guys,” continued Coach Raynor. “To see the ball hit the back of the net was the best thing that could’ve happened. We started winning balls we were slow to get to in the first half.”

The win was costly as the Eagles lost senior goalie Spencer Scott to an injury. “Jacob (Priest) did a great job in net after the injury,” stated Raynor. “Chase (Starkloff) worked extremely hard and brought a ton of energy. Greyson (Heustess) gave us some great looks at goal in the second half.”

Other Eagles drawing praise from Raynor included Jay McKoy, “his speed can’t be matched and was a fit for their backline;” B. J. Monroe, “had a solid night and played some excellent balls to our forwards;” Ezequiel Arteaga, “was huge for us in the midfield and played his butt off for 80 minutes, box to box.”

Other stand-outs were: Sam Inscoe, “did really well after coming in after an injury to Milton Estrada; Dan Tatum, “had a great performance for us and his marking was better; Pierce Melvin, “came up big and made some great stops for us.”

Raynor concluded that the Eagles needed to improve their set pieces, fitness and eliminate silly fouls.

The Eagles will host Scotland Tuesday at 6:30 after a jayvee game at 5 p.m.

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