The Eastside Eagles girls soccer team used solid defense and timely, if not overwhelming, offense to shutout cross-town rival Newton 3-0 on Tuesday night.
It was Eastside’s first win of the season, and with its Region 4-AAAA opener coming up against Luella this Friday, it was the Lady Eagles’ last chance to get some fine-tuning in before the region games begin.
“We’ve been working on some different formations lately,” said Eastside coach Joel Singleton. “We’ve played with three back, two defensive infielders. It helps us keep it in front of us.”
It seemed to pay off, as Newton was forced to be on the defensive for much of the night. The scoring began for Eastside when Alisa Still took the ball off a corner kick, squared up and shot in a goal from the left side of the net to give Eastside a 1-0 lead at the 35:51 mark of the first half.
Newton settled in defensively after that, halting some of Eastside’s breakaways to deny the Eagles shots at the goal, and seeing goalkeeper Lauren Williams come up with a handful of impressive saves. But the Eagles would strike again at 13:06 in the first half, when Madison Morvik booted one in on a sudden shot about 20 feet from the goal.
Sara Hammonds capped off the scoring with her goal at the 18:59 mark of the second half which provided the final margin.
Singleton said he was pleased overall, but would’ve liked to see his team capitalize more on its many opportunities at the net.
“It was a lot closer than I wanted it to be,” he said. “We had a lot of chances. Their goalkeeper played a great game. We just didn’t finish, but I thought we played well. We controlled and played on our goal most of the night.”
For Newton coach David Alexander, the loss highlighted the shortcomings he’s working hard to try and shore up as the team’s Region 8-AAAAAAA opener at Grayson next Tuesday looms. But he says he sees progress.
“Tonight, it’s better than what we’ve been doing,” he said. “We’ve improved a lot in the last couple of weeks. But we’ve still got some defensive weaknesses that we’re working on. And my offensive girls still have to find a way to convince the other girls to pass balls through to them. And then they’ve gotta receive them and get that goal. We’re not getting enough shots at the goal, and our defense is still young and weak, but we’re working on it.”
One person who hasn’t had much problem asserting herself on the field so far this year is Williams, Alexander’s goalkeeper. Williams, a first-year soccer player, had five first half saves and has inspired with her overall energy.
“She’s a pure athlete,” Alexander said. “She’s a senior, and she’s got the best work ethic of anyone out here. Right now she’s the difference in keeping us in every ball game we’ve been in.”
It was the last pre-region tune-up for both squads, and for Eastside, thought the first three games haven’t been perfect, it’s given Singleton enough to gauge the identity of his team.
“I feel pretty good about where our team is now,” he said. “Weather kept us from playing one of our early games, and of course we had the break last week. But we had some good training last week, and tonight was a good way to win and get things started for us. Our strength right now is in the midfield, with Madison Morvik, Elizabeth Osborne and Lisa Still.
“They’re all working well together. And I think we matchup well (for Luella), so now we’re just ready to focus on Friday.”