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NCHSAA Class 2A Girls’ Soccer Playoffs: Trinity Wheatmore 2, East Bladen 1

ELIZABETHTOWN – Senior Emma Baynard knocked in a penalty kick with seven minutes left that gave Wheatmore a 2-1 victory over East Bladen on Friday night in the second round of the NCHSAA Class 2A girls soccer playoffs.

“We were called for a handball 25 yards out from the goal, “ said Lady Eagle Coach Jay Raynor. “Baynard stepped up and curled a perfect ball into the top right corner. No keeper is stopping it. It was well hit and well placed.”

East Bladen pushed the ball into the attack zone at the end but couldn’t get the tying goal. The Lady Eagles outshot Wheatmore 8-2 in the first half and 16-7 for the game.

“We owned every facet of the game except the one that counts the most – the score,” stated Raynor. “I am beyond proud of my girls. They gave it everything they had. They left it all on the field. That was a very experienced team that we played, and we controlled the game and limited their strengths.”

Raynor added, “That’s what I love about coaching my kids here at East Bladen. They are tough and even when the odds seem stacked against them they prove what they are capable of.”

After a scoreless first half, East Bladen scored nine minutes into the second half. Junior Sydney Wober boomed a free kick that the Lady Warrior backline headed towards their goal. The ball went over the keeper’s head, and freshman Maya McDonald booted it into the net.

“I really thought the game was going to open up for us at that point,” noted Raynor. “We were controlling the midfield and the game.”

Three minutes later Wheatmore senior Madison Gore sent a high ball towards the East backline. “Two of our defenders were in a scrum with two of their players who happened to knock the loose ball into the goal,” said Raynor.

With the score tied 1-1, Raynor felt that his team continued to control the game. “The game plan was to win the first ball, pressure #2 (Taylor Comer), #19 (Baynard) and #16 (Gore) so they didn’t get open looks and not give up corner kicks. All of which we did a heck of a job of doing.”

Raynor went on to praise his team, “Katie (Evans) and Merrit (Martin) were relentless in the midfield. They shut down their attacking options and helped us keep the ball for 75 percent of the game.”

“Gracyn (Martin), Kenia (Medina), Sarah (Johnson) and especially Cybil (Campbell) dominated in the back,” continued Raynor. “They frustrated their forwards, made some smart plays and didn’t give up hardly any corner kicks.”

Raynor added, “Sydney was able to give us big balls out of midfield and handled our free kicks tonight. Her balls to Maya and Patience (Ward) kept Wheatmore penned back and allowed us to pour it on.”

“Patience left it all on the field and they couldn’t keep up with her speed,” continued Raynor. “She got behind them several times and made some big plays. Maya is just a force to be reckoned with. They couldn’t hold her. She had several other chances that barely missed.”

Senior Ashley Hardin returned after missing the last few games with an injury. “It was good to see her be able to contribute,” said Raynor. “She is tough and played with a ton of heart.”

Seniors Hardin, Ashton Magby, Johnson and goalie Ting Lin played their last game for East Bladen. “They left the program better than they found it and will be greatly missed,” concluded Raynor.

East Bladen finished the season with a 17-2 record.

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