BROOKLET — Entering play Wednesday, the Savannah Christian boys soccer team held a perfect 7-0 record, a 37-4 scoring advantage over opponents and a No. 6 state ranking.
None of that seemed to impress Southeast Bulloch.
The Yellow Jackets (5-3-1) rebounded from an early 1-0 deficit and thoroughly dominated the Raiders over the final 40 minutes to take away a 4-1 victory in non-region play. In addition to handing Savannah Christian its first loss, SEB avenged a season-opening 1-0 loss to the Raiders.
“The motto for this week and for this year is progression,” SEB coach Bob Massee said following the win. “Every season and every game, that’s what we strive for.”
The Jackets’ motto worked itself out in the second half as they became the aggressor in the game. After an early second-half corner kick sailed through the SCPS box that no Jacket was able to touch, SEB made good on its next chance.
In the 48th minute, another corner was earned and Sean Healy chipped the ball right to the waiting head of James Jones, who directed it into the right side of the Raiders’ net for the equalizing goal.
The score marked the first time SEB was even with Savannah Christian since Will Fox found the back of the net in the fifth minute of action.
“We didn’t focus on the (Raiders’) goal,” Massee said. “We just continued to concentrate on what we could do to get better as a team. We covered their angles, and went over some things at half time. In the second half, we did some things much better that allowed us to get back in the game.”
Invigorated by Jones’ goal, the Jackets continued to press the issue. After failing to possess the ball for much of the first half, SEB's defense held strong, the midfield forced more turnovers and the forwards created more scoring opportunities.
With just under 15 minutes to play, the Jackets pulled ahead on another set piece as a long throw-in from Drew Ware found the head of Doug Flott to put the Raiders behind on the scoreboard for the first time all season.
Sensing the chance to take the game, SEB continued to attack. With 7 minutes to go, Patrick Chambers tracked down a loose ball, dribbled into the box, and let loose a shot that a Raider defender put a hand on. On the ensuing penalty kick, Caleb Simmons put a low shot into the right side of the net for a 3-1 advantage.
Jones capped the scoring with 5 minutes left as he outraced the Savannah defense and found the top of the net.
“It felt good to get the first goal after being shut out last time,” Massee said. “And this is the type of group that, once they get something, they want to get a little more.”
After Jones’s first goal, the Raiders amped up the pressure on offense.
Loaded with skill all over the field, Savannah Christian repeatedly worked its way into the attacking zone, but after Fox’s early strike, SEB goalkeeper Riley Dinkins was up to every test.
While the score was knotted at 1, Dinkins prevented the Raiders from taking another lead twice in as many minutes. Bradley Morgan rifled a shot from 18 yards out that was snared out of the air, and another shot by Fox seemed destined for the net until Dinkins’ sprawling save.
“Riley was huge for us tonight,” Massee said. “There were a couple of shots that I thought were going in, but he just got a hand on everything tonight.”
SEB returns to Region 3-AA competition. Friday, the Jackets play host to Dodge County at 7 p.m. at Mill Creek Park. Currently tied with Bleckley County atop the region standings, SEB can get a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs by sweeping the rest of its region games.