On the evening of Wednesday, September 11, everything seemed to fall apart all at once for Eastern Alamance’s men’s soccer team in its home match at Fred Brady Stadium against Williams.
Granted, the Bulldogs came to Mebane in the midst of getting off to a 12-1 start this fall. But after playing Williams to a tough 2-1 halftime score, the Eagles felt they had a legitimate chance to knock off their local rival. Unfortunately, that notion fell apart as quickly as the Bulldogs took control of the second half. Behind a hat trick from Jorge Alfaro, the Eagles suffered a disappointing 5-1 setback.
While the loss to the Bulldogs could have really demoralized Kyle Shave’s squad as they fell to a 2-3 overall record, the Eagles showed some resilience and maturity by winning their next two matches - a pair of Mid-State Conference matchups against Northeast Guilford and Person.
Eastern had four days off from game action leading up to the Northeast Guilford game, giving them proper time to not only get the Williams match out of their collective system, but also to develop some motivation to get things back on track. Fortunately for the Eagles, their luck turned in the match with the Rams, as the Eagles got goals from four different players on their way to a commanding 6-1 triumph.
The Eagles got two goals each from juniors Gustavo Salas and Xzavier Smith, while seniors Jackson Poteat and Evan Morrison also fired shots into the back of the net. Morrison added two assists for EAHS in the win over the Rams, while seniors Sam Pettigrew, Julian Crespo, Chris Guerrero, and Salas added four more assists.
After struggling with communication and other issues in the loss against Williams, the Eagles were much more sound defensively against Northeast Guilford. The EAHS defense only allowed three shots on goal the entire evening. And while one of them managed to find its way past junior goalkeeper Kevin Reyes, the Eagles were able to keep the pressure off with a convincing triumph.
As impressive as the win over Northeast Guilford was for the Eagles, they looked even better as they overwhelmed Person on the road in Roxboro 9-0 on September 18. Once agains Eastern shared the wealth offensively, with seven different players scoring goals.
Morrison enjoyed one of his best games as an Eagle, as the twelfth grader scored a hat trick in the victory. Additional goals were scored by Pettigrew, Poteat, Crespo, Guerrero, junior Alex Baptiste, and senior Carter Johnson. Five EAHS players - Crespo, Morrison, Baptiste, Salas, and junior Murdoch Engwall, picked up assists against the Rockets.
For the second straight match the Eagles were stingy defensively, allowing Person just four shots on goal, and no scores. After saving Rocket shots on goal over the first 60 minutes, and with the Eagles holding a commanding lead, Reyes gave way to freshman Andrew Parker for the final 20 minutes of the match. Parker saved one shot to preserve the Eagle shutout.
With a two-match winning streak, and off to a 2-0 start in Mid-State Conference play, the Eagles were poised to send a message Monday night and upset Northern Guilford on the road in Greensboro. The Nighthawks, a perennial power, got off to another solid start this season, and scored twice in the first half to take a 2-1 lead over the Eagles. And while Eastern played hard all the way to the final whistle, the EAHS defense allowed a third Nighthawks goal in the second half, as Northern went on to a 3-1 victory. The loss was Eastern’s first in conference play this fall, and dropped their overall record to 4-4 through their first eight matches.
Eastern returns to the pitch Wednesday night with another conference home match, this one against Rockingham. The Cougars got off to a frustrating 1-7 start to the season, which gives the Eagles a prime opportunity to improve to 3-1 in conference play with a solid performance.