The Eastside boys’ soccer team is looking to replace one of the best in Classification AAA last season, and to do so, the Eagles don’t have to look very far.
Even though Trent Taylor has moved to collegiate soccer, Eastside still has plenty coming back with nine returners from last year’s starting 11.
"He’s going to be a big one to miss, but I think we’re going to be OK," Eastside coach Champ Young said.
Among those returning are Matt Edmiston, who missed much of 2012 with an injury, Jacob Alwes and goalkeeper Andres Sarmiento.
Sarmiento started in the net for the first time last season, and developed into a solid goalkeeper. In the offseason, he returned to his father’s home in Columbia and continued to develop his game for an upcoming senior season.
"He was a junior last year who got thrown into it," Young said. "He’s definitely one of our leaders, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much he’s improved."
The Eagles are looking to improve upon 2012’s 11-7-2 finish, in which they reached the state playoffs in Young’s first year as head coach. Now in his second season at Eastside, Young feels his squad is much improved and prepared.
"Two things have been the biggest difference so far," Young said. "One, they’ve all been in the weight room all year, and second is I don’t have to preach work ethic as much this year since they already know we can be successful with the style of play we had last year. We can go into developing them into soccer players rather than getting them to work on work ethic and stuff like that."
Young’s players are used to his style with all in their second years as starters with the exception of Phillip Keinberger and Reid Waters. Waters spent last year with the junior varsity squad and Keinberger is an Eastside foreign exchange student from Germany.
The Eagles begin the season Tuesday and enters Region 8-AAAA play at Lanier March 5.
"We have a lot easier schedule this year as far as out of region, and we’re hoping not to lose out of region games and position ourselves for the 1 or 2 spot in region," Young said. "We have enough depth and talent this year, where we can have a good run at being a No. 1 team in region and have a good run at state. I think we have the talent of being a quarterfinal team in state this year."