Friday night wasn’t a great home debut for Southeast Bulloch soccer — however there’s an asterisk to be inserted there.
In what’s only their second game of the season, the Yellow Jackets would be down four of their better players and it showed in bunches on the pitch. Mascon Canicotti, Evan Heidler, Michael Chambers and Andrew Kalaani were all out with injury — with the exception of Chambers who sat the night out because of a red card earned against Wayne County on Tuesday.
SEB would fall 6-0 where Islands scored all but one of their goals in the first half. It was evident from the beginning SEB’s attack was not going to be able to hold up without their starters, so it would be up to the midfield and defense to try and hold back a very skilled Islands attack.
“We just had too many guys out of position, and it messed up our flow,” said head coach Jonathan Graham. “And we may have to keep playing guys out of position until we’re fully healthy.”
The Yellow Jackets would earn a pair of corners at the very beginning of the game, but outside of those two minutes Islands would control the entire game with an iron fist. Eight minutes later the Sharks would draw a foul inside the SEB box, forcing a corner kick which would be slammed home by Chas Buie for the first goal of the game.
49 seconds later Islands would run a counter attack all the way back into the SEB box, and for a moment it looked to be harmless until Christian Rodriguez was able to kick the ball back into threatening position before it rolled out of the endline.
Buie would once again be at the right place at the right time to score his second goal in less than a minute and put Islands up 2-0 in a flash. Buie would put up three more shots after, putting a huge amount of stress on SEB goalkeeper Max Muellner and the entire SEB backline.
“We still learning how to play together, and I’m still trying to figure out who would best play where,” Graham said. “It’s going to be a learning process as the season goes along.”
Islands would really break down the flood gates with a 25 yard looper over the head of Muellner and right into the net for the Sharks’ third goal on the 22nd minute, then would add two more within the next six minutes to have SEB down 5-0 with another 52 minutes of play.
SEB was finally able to breath a sigh of relief when Chandler Sturdivant was ejected on a red card for yelling obscenities at the referee, and it was then playing with a one mad advantage SEB was able to hold back the Islands attack.
SEB’s best chance can in the 73rd minute when Kyle Edwards had a one-on-one chance with an Islands defender off a deep, midfield service — but the attempted shot went wide and the Yellow Jackets remained scoreless.
Even after giving up six goals, Muellner still came away with five saves on 11 shots on target from Islands. But down four players and not even a week’s worth of practice in, there was only so much to expect from SEB’s soccer team. With Graham on basketball duty until this week, he had no time to be around the team.
“We really haven’t been at this for very long, and since we’re so banged up I don’t know what we’ll be until we get everyone back,” Graham said. “Until then we’re just going to have to manage game by game.”
SEB (0-1-1) will look for their first win of the season against a very tough opponent in Savannah Arts (0-0-1) on Tuesday in Savannah at 7:00.
Islands drops SEB girls 3-1
From the beginning of the year, the Southeast Bulloch ladies knew if they wanted to host a playoff game at the end of the year they had to play well against three teams: Islands, Savannah Arts and Windsor Forest.
After a season opening win over Wayne County Tuesday, SEB’s ladies were faced with their first true test in the early season with their home opener against Islands — a legit contender for the region 3-3A championship.
The first 40 minutes looked promising for SEB, even after giving up the first goal of the game on a defensive lapse. Goalkeeper Makayla James looked to pass the ball out of goal on, only to find a streaking Stevie Norris come through the SEB defense and laying in an easy strike in the 18th minute.
It wasn’t as if SEB wasn’t playing well at that point. Star forward Cole Robertson had already created four chances with two shots — one of which forced a save by Marissa Bodenrader. But down 1-0 SEB would continue to push on offense, with Robertson continuing to create on the offensive end just like head coach Kristin Barnhill expects her to do all season.
“Coming out of basketball season we haven’t had a lot of time to practice, and it shows in our communication on the field,” Barnhill said. “The run doesn’t meet the pass, but that’s why it’s nice to have someone like Cole who can make up for that.”
Islands would control possession for the middle part of the first half, but for Barnhill that’s quite alright. She’s content with not being a possession team, and prefers her girls get back on the counter attack. After absorbing a free kick and a number of shots on their half of the field, SEB was able to set up one of those counter attacks after Islands was called offsides.
Emily Barnard took a service pass down field and dribbled down the endline and rocked a cracker of a shot near the inside corner past Bodenrader to tie the game at 1-1 on the stroke of halftime. With the score 1-1, SEB had Islands right where they wanted them.
“Emily is a fast, athletic player who finds a way to sneak it into the near post all the time,” Barnhill said. “She’ll come off the bench and spark it for us like she did tonight all season.”
However the second half is where SEB found trouble. The Yellow Jackets were unable to create the number of chances they did in the first half, as Islands found a way to box SEB into their defensive half of the field and work passes around the Yellow Jacket defense.
In the 48th minute this led to Norris’ second goal off a throw-in by Kylie Gordon — an unmarked strike into the upper right hand corner to make it a 2-1 game. SEB’s offense continued to stagnate, only getting off one shot the rest of the half from Robertson.
Islands finally put the game away with a goal off a straight corner kick. The ball looked to go over the goal but looped into the upper-90 at the last minute as James simply lost track of the ball in goal. That put all three goals off a set piece, which Barnhill knows her team is better than to give up goals in such a fashion.
“I don’t tolerate giving up those easy goals off set pieces,” Barnhill said. “But this is all going to settle back in with game experience as the season goes along.”
SEB (1-1-0) only held 38 percent of the possession, but was still able to create more chances (12-7) than Islands and get off only two fewer shots (7-5). However it was the shots on target (5-2) in favor is Islands that made the key difference.
SEB gets right back on the gauntlet next week when they face Savannah Arts (1-2-0) in Savannah at 5:00.