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Eastside boys soccer wins thriller in state playoffs
Eastside's Billy Love (No. 4 green) heads Jackson Jolly's corner kick delivery in to the net to put Eastside up 1-0. - photo by Submitted Photo (George Harrison) | The Covington News

FORSYTH, Ga. — It’s on to round two for Eastside boys soccer.  

A thrilling first round road game at Mary Persons that, on paper, many felt Eastside wasn’t supposed to win, turned into a 1-1 (4-3 PK) victory after overtime and a penalty shootout Monday night.  

With both teams tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, overtime ensued. Neither squad could score in the extra frame, so the match moved to a penalty kick shootout. 

Tristan Aldridge, Creighton Goerner, Jackson Jolly and Billy Love all converted their penalty kicks, while the right post and Jackson Gann each made one save for the Eagles, giving Love the opportunity to win the game for Eastside on his penalty kick.

It was a game that Eastside coach Champ Young said was, in many ways, the best effort of the season. 

“Defensively we were solid throughout the match, and only gave up a soft penalty,” Young said. “With the exception of a key goal line clearance by Will Gregory. Offensively, we were the most dangerous we’ve been all year, yet unable to finish some early chances that would’ve wrapped up the game.” 

Early on, the offensive flow seemed to come naturally for the Eagles (10-7, 3-3 in Region 4-AAAA). Love, a senior captain, scored the first goal of the night with just 2:44 gone by in the first half. It happened when Love headed in a corner kick delivery from Jolly.  

Will Gregory made that crucial goal line clearance with about eight minutes remaining in the half by heading a Mary Persons shot away from the goal. Unfortunately, an Eastside defender tripped a Mary Persons player in the scoring area with only 13 seconds remaining and the Bulldogs converted the resulting penalty kick to tie the match 1-1 at the half. 

Young said he feels like his team played as if they knew well the stakes of state tournament soccer.

“The boys put on a defensive show for the bulk of the game, and we really took them out of what they wanted to do to us,” Young said. “(You) hate for any team to lose when you get to penalty kicks. But Mary Persons was first class with everything.”

Eastside heads to the second round next Wednesday to face St. Pius X (10-7-2,

4-1 in Region 8-AAAA). Pius was a 7-0 winner over Heritage-Ringgold Wednesday night. 

It will mark the fourth time Eastside has advanced to the second round of the playoffs. It previously made it in 2011, 2012 and 2015.Young has been at the helm of three of those four tournament teams.