Eastern Alamance’s men’s soccer team celebrated Senior Night Monday evening with a showdown against arch rival Western Alamance at Fred Brady Stadium. While the Eagles were looking to lock down second place in the Mid-State Conference standings ahead of November’s NCHSAA 3A state playoffs, the Warriors were looking to avenge a stunning loss to Eastern Alamance earlier in the season, when the Eagles scored four unanswered goals in the second half after falling behind 3-0 at halftime for a remarkable 4-3 victory.
The Eagles and Warriors came out slugging in the opening half, playing to a 2-2 halftime tie. But Western took control in the second half, repaying the favor on Eastern by scoring three unanswered goals of their own over the final 25 minutes for a 5-2 win. The loss drops Eastern to 12-6 overall and 10-3 in conference play.
EAHS had a golden opportunity to strike first against the Warriors, as Xzavier Smith got free and put one in the back of the net eight minutes in. But Smith’s early goal was nullified by an offsides call.
Western got on the scoreboard first, as 20 (Ian Backus) popped a shot over the top that eluded EAHS goalkeeper Kevin Reyes and an attempt to kick it out for a goal that gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead at the 31:27 mark of the opening half. Just four minutes later, Gustava Salas provided the equalizer for Eastern by firing a shot past Western goalkeeper Garrett Besecker at the 27:13 mark.
Just seconds later the Eagles got another goal, as Jackson Poteat worked his way up the middle and ripped off a hard line shot that sailed past a diving Besecker, giving EAHS a 2-1 lead at the 26:44 mark.
Western Alamance got a couple of excellent scoring opportunities midway through the opening half, as the Warriors kept the ball on their side of the field for several minutes after Poteat’s goal. But Reyes came through with a save on one shot attempt, and another Western attempt bounded a few feet away from the goal.
The Warriors continued to apply pressure and eventually tied things up, as Angel Lopez fired a brilliant shot towards the upper right-hand corner of the net. Reyes made a solid effort, leaping to keep the ball out, but the shot found its mark and hit the piping in the back of the net, tying the score at 2-2 with just under nine minutes left in the half. The score remained that way through intermission.
In the second half, Western Alamance continued its offensive, forcing Reyes to make multiple saves, including a key catch save, in the first eight minutes of the period. Around the 24:35 mark, a shot deflected off an Eagles defender in the direction of the goal, but bounded just a couple feet over the top bar. Reyes made a diving save on a Warriors shot, but Lopez, standing nearby, took control of the deflected shot and fired a ball past Reyes to give Western a 3-2 lead.
EAHS quickly regrouped and got a couple shots on goal. But a header attempt by Smith was caught by Besecker. Eastern got another excellent chance moments later when some quality ball work by Poteat opened him up for a pass inside to Salas. Salas fired directly at Besecker, but the Western keeper made a vital save, maintaining the Warriors precarious lead. From there, Western Alamance took control.
With just under 17 minutes to play, Renick Splawn ripped off a shot to the right side that made its way past Reyes for Western’s fourth goal. Chase Golden finished things off by getting a shot past Reyes at the 2:30 mark, which made the final score 5-2.
Eastern closes out the regular season Wednesday night with a road match at McMichael. And while the Eagles currently find themselves in third place in the Mid-State Conference standings heading into the regular season finale, Western Alamance faces off against regular season champion Northern Guilford at Northern Wednesday. If Eastern beats McMichael and the Warriors lose to the Nighthawks, then Western and Eastern will finish tied for second with identical 11-3 records. Next week, the Eagles will begin play in the NCHSAA state playoffs.