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SoccerJunior Alexa Hernandez scored both East Bladen goals Tuesday night as the Lady Eagles posted a 2-1 Four County Conference women’s soccer victory at Pender.

The Lady Eagles capitalized on a loose ball in Pender’s half of the field to take a 1-0 lead only 3 minutes into the game.  Sophomore Cassie Hill sent a pass to Hernandez who fired the ball past the keeper for the early goal.

East Bladen maintained the 1-0 lead until Pender tied the game 12 minutes into the second half. The Lady Patriots turned a loose ball into a goal.

With 20 minutes left to play, Hernandez beat Pender’s right-back and went 1-on-1 with the keeper. “Alexa easily finished her opportunity and put us ahead once again,” said East Bladen Coach Jay Raynor.  “She has a knack for scoring and putting herself in a good position to do it.”

Coach Raynor credited his team’s midfield play with playing a huge role in the Lady Eagle goals and with creating other opportunities. “The midfield play of Lexi Mendell, Justyna  Gargala, Ayana Avery, and Umoja Turner-Dobson were the reasons we were able to control the game and get some good looks.”

“They (Pender) were physical which took us a bit to grasp and give back a little,” continued Raynor. “I thought overall we played well. We didn’t force our keeper to face many shots which is a good thing. Kathryn Cole is doing well for us and not forcing her to make saves means everyone is doing their jobs in front of her.”

Coach Raynor praised the heads-up play of Claire Campbell for keeping Pender off the scoreboard. “Claire keeps the girls in their positions. She made a key tactical foul late in the game.”

With the score tied 1-1, Pender tried to start a break-away out of a scrum for a loose ball. “Basically she committed a foul to stop an advantage,” said Raynor. “She was awarded a yellow card and had to be subbed off but that was a much better result then what could have happened.”

The Lady Patriots were awarded a free kick from the foul which the East Bladen defense stopped. “It all worked out for the better,” noted Raynor. “An extremely smart and heads up play by Claire. If that young lady gets by her then the game changes completely. We could have gone down 2-1 and be fighting a tough uphill battle. Instead, we commit the foul, stop the free kick, and then go down and score 3 minutes later.”

“Pender was a tough side and the game could have gone either way,” said Coach Raynor. “What I liked was the calm my girls had.  Last week when after giving up a goal we were deflated. Today was the opposite. We responded extremely well and took our game up a notch.”

“We got some good looks that we didn’t put home or pull the trigger quick enough,” added Raynor. “We will work on our finishing. Cassie Hill, Trinity Carroll, Hannah Devane, and Maddie West are doing a great job for us up top.”

The Lady Eagles improved to 2-1 in the league and 4-2 overall. East Bladen will host Heide Trask Friday night.