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Eastside eases to win
Lady Eagles win 'important game' over Locust Grove
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Thanks to solid ball movement the Eastside girls' soccer team moved itself up a position in the Region 4-AAA standings.

Locust Grove came to Cousins Middle School just ahead of the Eagles in region play in what Eastside coach Joel Sigleton called "a very important game."

The Eagles (6-5, 3-1) were ready for it, putting into practice what they have been working so hard on in training.

Eastside has struggled at times to take an early lead and fell behind 2-0, 3-0, 3-1 in earlier games. Thursday night was a different case.

The Eagles scored within the first three minutes as Amber Lafond scored off a Sarah Gaddis cross from the left side.

"We stressed a lot in the last two weeks to focus at the start of the game," Singleton said. "We played some tough teams early and let them get two or three goals, those were a couple of games we should have won, but we let them get up on us. It's a lot easier to play from ahead than it is from behind and today we did what we needed to do from that angle."

Eastside played the rest of the way with the lead and limited Locust Grove's opportunities through its possession. The Eagles cut off angles on defense and moved the ball through the midfield to what has been the strongest aspect of their game, the upper third and the forwards.

The team of Savannah Hill, Emily House, Gaddis, Lafond and others excelled at putting the ball in space for their teammates to get to it and looked like a team that had been playing together for more than two years.

The Eagles worked the ball through their outside midfielders and then found Lafond going up the middle, who beat the Locust Grove keeper for her second goal, 35 seconds into the second half.

"They're keeper is probably one of the more solid in the region," Singleton said. "I thought we really kept her off balance today.

"We executed what we wanted to do coming in, which was getting the ball in close."

The Eagles were buzzing around Locust Grove's back third throughout the second half, coming outside in on the crosses from Hill and Gaddis.

"We possessed a lot," Singleton said. "We had some passes here and there, but we controlled the flow of the game most of the time."

Hill did exactly that.

Putting the exclamation on a fourth straight win, Eastside got the ball out of the backfield, Hill passed up to Sarah Gaddis and headed for the sideline. Gaddis, who has played with the senior for the last three years, then waited patiently running up the middle, as Hill put a cross to her 10 yards out. Gaddis took a controlling touch and struck one in the corner past Locust Grove to seal the win.

"It makes it a lot easier that they know where each other are," Singleton said. "Even when they do well they still say, ‘Hey we have to do more.'"

Eastside now has a week off before taking on the region's top team, and ninth-ranked in the state, Spalding Thursday. Spalding opened the season with two straight wins and a total of 23 goals. Most recently, it has won two in a row, beating Stockbridge 9-0 on March 13 and Henry County 10-0 on March 16.