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Eagles Soccer Hosts First Soccer Jamboree

Posted Tuesday, August 11, 2009 by Adam Thompson, New Bern Sun Journal

West Craven soccer team tunes up for regular season

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Sun Journal Staff

VANCEBORO — West Craven soccer coach Aaron Steele told his team to treat Tuesday’s jamboree scrimmage like a regular game.

It appeared the Eagles did just that. Five minutes into the match, senior midfielder Jordan Mallard ripped a shot into the back of the net for the Eagles’ first goal of the day.

For the third-straight season, West Craven participated in a multi-team scrimmage. However, Tuesday’s was the first one at home.

The Eagles competed in 30-minute scrimmages each against South Lenoir, East Carteret and Epiphany. Pamlico was originally scheduled to participate, but backed out.

“On game days, I am pretty strict and uptight about everything,” Steele said. “They handled it quite well. The preparation was great. They are treating it like there is a trophy at the end.”

For the first time this summer, Steele got to evaluate his team in game-like situations. Two referees were hired to officiate the matches.

Steele saw his offense explode for three goals in the opening scrimmage against South Lenoir. He also liked what he saw from goalkeepers Sam Mitchell and Zai Cherry.

“Sam looked solid in the back,” he said. “I was also wondering how Zai would do, because there was always talk about his potential.”

The Eagles’ offense, led by Jaime Cortez, Joe Valdez and Mallard dominated most of the day against smaller opponents. Cortez added a breakaway goal against South Lenoir.

“Jaime still has his speed, while Jordan and Joe do an excellent job controlling the middle,” Steele said.

Freshman midfielder Lamberto Gomez saw his first action against varsity opponents and felt confident at the end of the day.

“This helped us a lot,” Gomez said. “I thought today went good. It was a little bit hard, but I got over it.”

It wasn’t just the starters that were being assessed. Every player, on offense and defense, saw action. Some played different positions than they were used to.

Ryan Hardison, who hadn’t seen a lot of playing time in the past, surprised Steele.

“He impressed me a lot,” Steele said. “He’d been begging me to play and he played the right side perfect. He moved the ball well and made solid passes.”

Defensively, the Eagles are led by Y’Yoch Rmah, Cody Wetherington, Mike Cauley and Antonio Labra.

“We made a couple mistakes today, but I still think the defense is looking pretty solid,” said Cauley, a sophomore. “It prepared us good because we get to see other teams and let’s us see how we will do in games.”

Steele, who preaches defense to his team, was disappointed with the goal given up in the first scrimmage. He also didn’t like how quickly the team wore out.

“I told the defense I expect better and I don’t like getting scored on in the first half,” Steele said. “But that’s what these things are for, to clean up stuff like that.”

The Eagles posted a 7-13-1 record last season, including a trip to the 3-A state playoffs. They kick off this season with a home game against Pamlico on Tuesday.

“I think we will do really good this season,” Cauley said. “I definitely think we will make it back to the playoffs.”

Adam Thompson can be reached at (252) 635-5670 or at athompson@freedomenc.com.

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