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CARY – East Bladen and West Iredell battled to a 1-1 tie Saturday in the NC Soccer Coaches Association Kickoff Classic at Wake Med Soccer Park.

After a scoreless first half, both teams scored a second half goal. East Bladen, now 0-1-1, will travel to Dixon on Tuesday night for a 6:30 game.

West Iredell scored midway the second half from just inside the 18-yard box after a free kick. Junior Garrett Melvin fired in the game-tying goal for East Bladen with just under 5 minutes left to play.

“Garrett was able to get onto the end of a loose ball that was played into the 6-yard box for the goal,” said Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “He showed the toughness to make that play and put it into the back of the net.”

The Eagles had two corner kicks and a deep throw-in in the first half. “We should have put all of them into the back of the net,” noted Raynor. “We are creating some great chances, just not taking advantage of them.

“Jake Evans played a heck of a game,” said Raynor. “He played box to box and numerous times made big plays to win or clear a ball. He is a senior and his experience as well as his grit showed today.”

Raynor praised the play of the Eagle backline and goalie Jacob Priest. “Jacob made the plays that he had too. He was tested a few times and came up big. Freddy (Wooten) continues to play strong and make game-saving tackles and plays on the ball.

“Hate to tie, but that was a good tie and we will take it,” continued Raynor. “They have a lot of seniors and are really talented. Their quickness and skill on the ball gave us a fit at times.

“It was a great experience and a good time for the guys,” concluded Raynor. “I like the rate at which we are improving. Another big test at Dixon on Tuesday as we try to avenge that playoff heartbreaker from last season.”

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