03/05/2024
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Photos by: kenarmpthoto.com

ELIZABETHTOWN – East Bladen seniors Brooks McGill and Caleb Hatchell combined for 5 goals as they celebrated Senior Night with an 8-0 Three Rivers Conference men’s soccer victory over West Bladen Wednesday night.
McGill recorded a ‘Hat Trick’ of 3 goals and added an assist to lead the Eagle attack. Hatchell scored 2 goals and dished out 3 assists. Junior Greyson Heustess contributed 3 assists and tallied one goal.
McGill’s 3 goals broke the East Bladen school career goals record of 78 that was held by Izzy Evans. McGill now has a career total of 79 goals.
The victory completed an undefeated conference season with a 14-0 record and will take a 20-1 overall record into the NCHSAA play-offs.
In the seventh minute, sophmore Gabe Barber played a ball to Hatchell who flicked a pass to McGill who knocked in the shot from 9 yards out.
Four minutes later Heustess sent a pass to sophmore Jake Evans who nailed the shot from 7 yards out for a 2-0 Eagle lead.
In the 22nd minute, junior Dan Tatum launched a pass to Heustess who flicked a feed to Hatchell. Hatchell buried the shot from 6 yards out for a 3-0 East Bladen lead.
The Eagles padded the lead to 4-0 three minutes into the second half. Heustess banged in a shot from ten yards out off of a feed from Hatchell.
Seven minutes later junior Pierce Melvin sent a pass to Hatchell who played the ball on to McGill. McGill found the back of the net from four yards out to up the count to 5-0.
With 23 minutes remaining to play, McGill blasted in a shot from 20 yards out off of an assist from Evans. Midway the half Heustess played the ball to Hatchell who drilled in a shot from 24 yards out to boost the lead to 7-0.
With 15 minutes left to play McGill was fouled in the box. Senior Jacob Barber fired in the penalty kick for the final 8-0 margin.
“Our guys played extremely well tonight!” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “The three seniors had big nights, but I also thought Greyson and Pierce had amazing games. Greyson helped create scoring changes and put away two really good finishes. Pierce worked his butt off in midfield and helped stop their attacks.”
“The ball moved well,” continued Raynor. “We were finding the open player and didn’t force things. Tonight was fun to watch. We were clicking and playing really good soccer.”
Junior Spencer Scott made two saves in goal for the Eagles, and freshman Jacob Priest had one save as they combined for the shutout.
“Jake moved up to the front line tonight and made an instant impact,” said Coach Raynor. “He can generate scoring chances for us and that move helped generate a different result from the previous match (against West).”
“I am proud of my seniors and what they have accomplished so far this season,” stated Raynor. “It wasn’t long ago this group was 3-11 in conference and 6-14 overall. Today they sit at 14-0 and 20-1 overall. That didn’t just happen. They wanted it and put forth a ton of hard work and sacrifices.”
Raynor went on to praise his seniors, the Eagle soccer parents, school administration and coaching staff for all their work and contributions to the program.
The Eagles have now scored the most goals (140) among Class 2A schools in the state. East Bladen has allowed only 12 goals which is the third best total in Class 2A.
“Those are pretty impressive numbers,” noted Raynor.

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