In a cross-town rivalry, non-conference match between Southeast Bulloch and Statesboro High School, the Blue Devils got the best of its counterparts for the boys, while the girls game ended in a tie.
The boys won in a physical game 3-1, while the girls tied the Yellow Jackets in a slow, grind-it-out 1-1 game.
For the boys, the loss puts the Yellow Jackets at 9-5 for the season and extends the team’s losing streak to three games. The win for SHS is the second win in three games. The Blue Devils were able to bounce back from a tough 4-1 loss to Richmond Hill.
On Statesboro High School’s senior night, it was junior Alex Wagner who stepped up early for the team. Andrew Cribbs put the Yellow Jackets up early just 10 minutes into the game on a free kick, but Wagner would answer soon after with a goal of his own off a perfect cross from senior Emilio Quintero.
Wagner would break later break the 1-1 tie with another goal in the first half after a wild scramble in front of the goal.
The Blue Devils (7-6, 4-4 region) seemed to out-hustle SEB on 50-50 balls, inevitably leading to a victory.
“Southeast Bulloch definitely played a good game. They were real technical and made good passes, but we were just a little better conditioned and definitely stronger,” said SHS boys soccer coach Nick Thrower. “Southeast Bulloch did beat us in some moments, but overall I think we won the war.”
One of the moments the Yellow Jackets fell just short of winning was a 50-50 ball with just 20 minutes left in the game. One of SEB’s leading scorers, Andrew Kalaani, had a chance to tie the game 2-2 but couldn’t come up with the goal. He was injured on the play and did not return.
“I thought it was physical both ways. There could have been calls going for both sides but it was clean. A very physical game, but it was clean,” said SEB first-year assistant coach Dylan Campbell. “It was a hard fought game.”
Quintero would put the game away late in the second half to give the Blue Devils a 3-1 lead.
SHS will open the region playoffs against Camden on Tuesday at Camden.
“It’s going to be a good matchup and right now I think we’re very positive about what we can do,” Thrower said.
For the girls, Emily Barnard broke a 0-0 game 10 minutes into the second half. The Lady Yellow Jackets played a defensive game, not allowing SHS girls soccer team to get into a rhythm.
“I don’t know if the Southeast Bulloch girls (soccer team) have ever beat Statesboro,” SEB head coach Kristen Barnhill said. “We were kind of playing like ‘oh my god we’re playing against Statesboro High School’ and I challenged them to not play scared and to play to win.”
Barnhill said she wanted her team to slow the Lady Blue Devils attack so SHS would not be able to capitalize on early momentum.
It wasn’t until a costly hand-ball call would allow SHS to jump back in the game and tie it up 1-1 in the second half. Because the matchup was a non-conference game, it did not go into overtime.
“All season I’ve been telling these girls they’re a good team. This is definitely a big confidence boost going into the playoffs,” Barnhill said after Thursday’s tie.
The Lady Yellow Jackets are now 8-5-1 on the season and 8-2 in the region. The Lady Blue Devils are 5-6-1 on the year and 3-4 in the region.
SEB will host senior night tonight against Vidalia High School at Fred Shaver Field in Brooklet.
Horace Holloman may be reached at (912) 489-9408.