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Timberwolves too tough for Eagles

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 1/11/23

FLEMING ISLAND - Tallahassee Chiles High soccer forwards Garrett Elebash and Caleb Gaines scored two goals apiece as Tallahassee Chiles stunned second-ranked (Class 6A) Fleming Island 5-1 at Randy …

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Timberwolves too tough for Eagles


FLEMING ISLAND - Tallahassee Chiles High soccer forwards Garrett Elebash and Caleb Gaines scored two goals apiece as Tallahassee Chiles stunned second-ranked (Class 6A) Fleming Island 5-1 at Randy Warren Memorial Stadium on Fri., Jan. 6.

The Golden Eagles fall to 8-2-2, while Chiles, ranked ninth in Class 6A, improves to 7-1-0.

The Timberwolves’ twin towers controlled the box at each end of the pitch. Gaines, who stands 6’4” , headed two corner kicks past Fleming Island goalkeeper Peyton French in the second half, starting and completing a three-goal spurt that turned a tight game into a route. Elebash, a midfielder who checks in at 6’5”, controlled the defensive box, turning away four Fleming Island corner kicks with headers to keep the hosts off of the scoreboard.

According to Fleming Island head coach Michael Green, Chiles height was just part of the reason that the Timberwolves had the advantage on balls in the air.

“They were just able to get to those headers,” Green said of Elebach and Gaines. “Our guys are taught when they are 10 years old not to head the ball– they are told that it can cause concussions and it is actually a foul. Now that they are allowed to use their heads, they may be afraid to do so.”

The Timberwolves were the aggressors early, seizing the lead just 48 seconds into the game when forward Charlie Buchholz dribbled down the right alley and then sent a hard cross to the middle of the box. The hard-charging Elebash met the ball with his toe, redirecting it to French’s right side.

The Golden Eagles fought back, enjoying a possession advantage for the final 35 minutes of the first half. Fleming Island had three solid chances to score at the 15 minute mark, but the Eagles’ Matthew Carlton headed a centering pass just over the crossbar, Chiles goalie Alex Garcia reached Matthew Male just in time to smother a drive that had reached the goals doorstep, and Garcia saved a high drive from William Kennedy. Near the end of the first half, Male beat a Timberwolves defender off of the dribble, drawing Garcia out to the edge of the box. Male centered the ball to Taylor Suarez for a tap-in, but Suarez lost his footing on the wet turf, allowing Chiles center back Tanner Ritchie to get between him and the goal. Ritchie then deflected Suarez’s kick away from the goal.

“We had so many chances in front of the goal, but we just could not score,” said Green. “Their keeper did a great job tonight.”

Garcia finished with 11 saves.

With 31:45 remaining in the game, Chiles striker Noah Miller sent a looping corner kick into the center of the box, where Gaines rose to meet the ball and headed it into the net. Thirty seconds later, Elebash drove down the right side, got past his man and drilled a laser to French’s left and into the goal. Thirty seconds after Elebash’s strike, Gaines again headed a perfectly placed corner kick from Miller past French. At that point it was 4-0, and the game was in hand.

The Golden Eagles, who had eight corner kicks to Chiles’ six and had a 13-11 edge in shots on goal, ended their scoring drought with 17:17 remaining. Male again won a one-on-one battle with a defender on the left side of the box and rocketed a shot right at Garcia, who was not able to corral it. The rebound rolled out to Suarez, who right-footed the ball into the net.

The Timberwolves responded less than a minute later. From the right sideline, Elebash found sophomore striker Jaime Maloy on the left side of the box. Maloy freed himself from Cade Dailey and fired a laser to the far right side of the goal for the final margin.

Green was pleased that the Golden Eagles gave great effort throughout the game, but recognized his defenses inability to mark their men or challenge headers.

“We are going to have to reorganize in the back,” he said.

The match against the Timberwolves was the start of a difficult stretch for Fleming Island, which hosts Gainesville Buchholz on January 10, travels to Creekside January 12 and returns home to face Daytona Beach Seabreeze on January 16.

Chiles was set to visit Mandarin on Saturday, January 7.