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Devils play to a draw

    The Savannah Christian Raiders traveled to Statesboro to take on the SHS Blue Devils (3-4-2, 2-3) Thursday, and due to the outstanding play of both keepers, the game ended in a 0-0 tie.
    Both teams got off to an aggressive start — combining for four shots-on-goal in the first five minutes — including a header that went just over the crossbar by Blue Devil forward Thomas Eisenhart.
    The Raiders had their first real scoring opportunity in the 13th minute of the first half when SC junior Matt Ball fired a shot at the left side of the Statesboro goal and Blue Devil keeper Jake Lanier made a diving save to preserve the tie.
    Statesboro answered the Raider scoring attempt in the 25th minute when Jack Kimes fired a shot that was deflected off of SC keeper Jamie Lindley and back into play. Jose Rubio took the rebound and fired it at the goal again, but his shot was deflected out of bounds.
    The Blue Devils attempted six shots in the first half, and SC responded with six of their own. Lindley recorded five saves in the first half to preserve the shutout, and Lanier racked up four for Statesboro.
    “(Lanier) played great,” said Statesboro coach Chad Prosser. “He has come up big for us all year, and he has kept us in a lot of games that maybe we didn’t deserve to be in.”
    When the teams returned to the field after halftime, the aggressive play did not slow down. Rubio was denied on his first attempt of the half, but Statesboro was able to more aggressively attack the Raider defense.
    “We came out flat,” said Prosser, “and we struggled for awhile to get going, but we fought hard — that’s the one thing we’ve got is our effort — and we tried hard, but we just couldn’t put one in.”
    Savannah Christian built some momentum of their own after the Devils’ quick second-half start, with four different SC players firing shots-at-goal in a four-minute span.
    The Raiders were able to attempt 10 shots in the second half, and SHS only managed five, but the Devils had their chances.
    In the last 10 minutes, a header by Kimes went just over the goal and Eisenhart missed out when he fired a high shot past a wide open goal.
    When the final whistle blew, and the score remained 0-0, Raider coach Ashley Barnwell was pleased with his team’s overall performance.
    “It was a solid match. I am really happy with the guys’ effort,” said Barnwell. “(Statesboro) is a good team and they play in a tight region, so we knew we were going to get in a solid match, and we did. I think both keepers made good plays today and I think both teams played solid. That’s what we came looking for in an out-of-region match.”
    Prosser is happy with his team on the defensive side of the ball, but hopes to continue improving offensively.
    “(Lanier’s) goal is to shut out every game,” said the SHS coach. “We’ve just got to figure out a way to put some in the back of the net.”
    The Blue Devils return to action when they travel to Evans for a 7 p.m. region 3-AAAA game on Tuesday.

    Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9404.

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