For the first 30 minutes of Friday’s Region playoff 1-AAA girls soccer game at Southeast Bulloch, the Lady Yellow Jackets were having a hard time against Toombs County.
Toombs jumped out to an early 1-0 and seemed to have all the momentum. That is until Keeley Klein gave SEB (11-5) a much-needed boost on the way to a 4-1 victory.
Klein punched in her first goal at the 5:11 mark in the first half, evening the game at 1-1.
Less than four minutes later, Klein would strike again to put the Yellow Jackets on top for good with just her fourth career goal.
“It feels really good. I tried to score three [goals] because that’s my number. I almost made it,” laughed Klein after the game. “We started out slow, but we really picked it up. I’m really proud of them.”
Klein said her performance Friday night will give her confidence moving forward. With the win over Toombs, the Lady Yellow Jackets advanced to the state playoffs.
“I’m definitely going to try and score. I believe in myself and I believe in us. I’m really proud of everybody and the way we put it together,” Klein said.
SEB previously defeated Toombs 7-2 on March 22, however, Friday’s game would be a different story.
SEB soccer coach Kristen Barnhill said Toombs came out ready to play — taking her players by surprise.
Holding on to a narrow 2-1 lead at halftime, Barnhill gave her players a “motivational” halftime speech.
“I threatened to make them run,” said Barnhill, smiling, after her team’s 4-1 victory. “I told them if we lose here and our season is over we’re still going to run after the game. I conveyed to them that I was not pleased with their performance or their intensity.”
Barnhill’s halftime message seemed to resonate with the team.
Seven minutes into the second half, Cole Robertson—playing on her birthday—scored to push SEB’s lead to 3-1.
Emily Barnard scored with under a minute left to put the icing on the cake.
The Lady Yellow Jackets will play in the next round of the region playoffs Tuesday. Time and opponent are to be announced.
SEB 5, Jenkins 1
Southeast Bulloch’s boys’ soccer team completed the region playoff sweep at Fred Shaver Field with a 5-1 win over Jenkins High School in the opening round.
It didn’t take long for the Yellow Jackets to impose their will— around 15 minutes to be exact.
Omar Villegas punched in the first goal of the game to give SEB a 1-0 lead at the 25:56 mark of the first half. One minute later, Andrew Cribbs scored for the Yellow Jackets to push the lead to 2-0.
“Overall we played great. I said this last night, you have 80 minutes to play. That’s all we have. If we didn’t win tonight then it’s over, that’s your season,” said SEB soccer coach Davis Williford. “They knew all we had left is 80 minutes and they worked for every single second of that. We were able to capitalize on every single opportunity.”
The Yellow Jackets’ progress over the season has been evident, Williford said. Williford alluded to the Yellow Jackets first meeting with Jenkins on March 1. SEB won 3-0. The first-year Yellow Jackets coach said SEB’s 5-1 win shows just how much the team has improved.
“We passed well, moved the ball around well and pressured well. We did everything that we’ve learned. In the beginning of the season we won 3-0. Today we won 5-1. We have improved and you can see it on the score,” Williford said.
Not satisfied with a 2-0 lead, the Yellow Jackets didn’t let up in the second half. Off of a corner kick, SEB’s Ben Sneathen was able to crowd the box and score just two minutes into the second half.
Caleb Carter and L.A Anderson sealed the game for the Yellow Jackets with back-to-back scores. Carter snuck a ball past a Jenkins’ defender and goalie to give SEB a 4-0 lead. Anderson, with a tricky dribble, scored from 15 feet out just three minutes after Carter’s goal.
“Overall we played fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better game,” Williford said. “If we want to win [the next game] we have to stay focused, we have to stay disciplined and the results will come.”
The Yellow Jackets will try to advance in the region playoffs Monday when they take on Islands on the road. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.