The Statesboro girls soccer team blitzed Southeast Bulloch in the opening minutes to build a nearly insurmountable lead. The Lady Blue Devils found the back of the net four times in the first half, turning the second 40 minutes into little more than a competitive team jog as they topped the Lady Yellow Jackets by a score of 5-0 at Womack Field.
A tough loss against a talented Effingham County squad and a tie at Grovetown opened the regular season for SHS, making Friday’s victory a welcoming to the win column that evened up their record at 1-1-1.
“I thought we played solid,” SHS coach Brian Thomas said. “Of course, it was great to get out to an early lead. After that, we did a good job of creating some chances and I really liked how we played on defense and prevented (SEB) from threatening.”
Statesboro was glad to have anyone to play Friday night. Early in the week, Windsor Forest — which was the Devils’ originally scheduled opponent — had to beg out of its trip to town. Southeast Bulloch was quick to take up the opportunity for an extra early-season game and — following the early defensive lapses — tested the Devils throughout the night.
“We weren’t quite sure what was going to happen,” Thomas said. “I appreciate that SEB stepped up and wanted to come play. We had some younger girls who were able to get their first action on the field tonight, so that helps give us some experience.”
Despite the loss, the Yellow Jackets were also glad to be playing.
SEB coach Kristen Barnhill noted her young team and the fact that the Jackets were playing without three normal starters.
“Maybe this was a loss we needed,” Barnhill said. “We gave away some easy goals early, but I thought we settled down and played better. Hopefully that’s a lesson for us for later.”
Isabella Gutierrez did the heavy lifting for the Devils early on. The senior forward - who officially signed on to play at Furman University next season - picked her way through the SEB defense consistently in the opening minutes and had herself a hat trick before the Jackets could really settle into the game.
Tanner Kaiser added a fourth Statesboro goal before halftime and the SHS reserves started to flow onto the field during the final 40 minutes of action. Statesboro was able to maintain most of the possession and had the better of the scoring chances despite the scoreboard remaining the same.
With the final outcome long determined, Statesboro found its final strike of the night off of a penalty kick. With just 28 seconds to play, Brook Standel was fouled in the box. Standel took dead aim and fired high and hard into the top of the net.
The Devils will get a few days to rest up before welcoming in East Laurens for another non-region game next Thursday.