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SABLAN SCORES HAT TRICK IN RETURN FROM INJURY, FRIARS DOWN KNIGHTS

The Friars welcomed back EJ Sablan, who celebrated his first game of the season with a hat trick.

By Robert Balajadia

In his first game back since injuring his wrist, Friar striker EJ Sablan put in three goals for a hat trick in the teams 5-2 victory over the #2 seed St. John’s Knights in IIAAG Boys Soccer. Wednesday evenings matchup was the second time the undefeated Friars (6-0) and Knights faced off, this time with the Knights hosting to begin the second round of games between the five IIAAG teams.

The last time Sablan had played in a high school soccer game was last years Championship game which the Knights had won over the Friars. Sablan wasn’t on the field for the teams first victory over the Knights this season so he felt he needed to make up for lost time.

“First game back was fun. I felt like I needed something to prove since I missed most of the season, but I’m still coming for that MVP title,” said Sablan.

Wendy’s Players of the Game: EJ Sablan, Nainoa Norton and Riley Rama.

With the game knotted at 2-2, Sablan put a through ball to teammate Riley Rama who used a single tap to get his right foot on the ball for a go-ahead goal at the 59th minute.

“I just felt like if I put myself in that position then I’d be able to score, and it all happened. I was waiting for a play like that to happen because we didn’t play too great in the first half, but we got more chances in the second. I think that goal really got us kick started… it really helped us win the game,” said Rama.

Sablan didn’t waste much time adding to the lead after scoring off a header from a throw in at the 62nd minute. Sablan put the finishing touches on the game scoring in extra time to complete the hat trick on a goal that bounced off the left post for the 5-2 final.

“I’m glad he’s back,” said Rama on the return of Sablan. “He’s a playmaker… He helps motivate the team every time, week in week out, and hopefully he can get that spot on the 1st Team and we’re all rooting for him.”

Back and forth they go

Friars senior Nainoa Norton quickly got the Friars on the board by scoring the games first goal in the 9th minute. Sablan started the attack from the left side before the ball eventually found Norton, who rocketed a shot towards the left of the box for a 1-0 lead.

Sablan scored his first goal in the 30th minute off a free kick just outside the goal box, getting through the only window the Knights defensive wall allowed.

SJS Knight Hayden Crisfield tackles the ball for possession. (Photo by Michael Blas)

Down 2-0, Knight Meto Harmon would strike to breathe some life into his team. Harmon got a pass from teammate Justin Joseph, which he turned into his teams first goal in the 37th minute just before the half.

St. John’s tied up the game early in the 2nd half as Andrew Stinson scored after a through ball got past the Friar defense. Stinson outran every Friar to the ball using a tap to get past the closing keeper, scoring the games fourth goal to tie the game at two each.

“We were telling each other the game wasn’t over. We’re not a team that backs down and we always want to finish the game. We wanted to push even harder than [the Knights] because we saw them getting tired. Everyone who went into the game put in their shift so I’m glad that happened,” said Rama on the mindset shifting after the game was tied.

Neither side was letting up before Rama’s goal in the 59th minute with Sablan putting the game out of reach.

“We just needed to hit the outsides more. We kept going through the middle and they kept locking us, so in the 2nd half we changed our attack and got three goals out of it,” said Sablan on how the offense attacked differently in the 2nd half.

The Friars have a BYE on Saturday while the Knights prepare to host the Harvest Eagles.

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