COVINGTON, Ga. — In 14 years of coaching the Eastside Lady Eagles, Joel Singleton has had the fortune of coaching some remarkable teams. Seven of those teams have made the playoffs including a 2019 Elite Eight appearance and 2012, 2018 Sweet 16 advancements.
There is one vast difference Singleton has noticed about his 2023 squad compared to years past.
“This will probably be my least experienced returning varsity team,” Singleton said. “Mia Mostek will not be playing this season but she will be helping out managing on the sidelines. Joanna Funes is expected to be out until sometime in mid-February.”
Lauren Davis (13 goals) is the leading goal scorer returning from the 2022 squad with Joanna Funes (11 goals) close behind. Funes led last year’s Lady Eagles with seven assists while Mallory Shurtz notched six and Sophia Leal had five. Defensive players returning include Charlotte Abernathy, Payton Dozier, Nelia Dailey, Aubrey Parham and Liz Kelly.
Singleton is looking for more than just contributing to the stat line, though.
“As far as leadership, I am going to really lean on Lauren, Sophia, Mallory and Charlotte,” Singleton said. “Along with that group, Abigail, Liz, Katherine and Quigg will be the goalkeeper.”
Newcomers this year include Amaiah Clayton, Cheyenne Colley, Alexa Corley, Layla Crayon, Quigg Holifield, Brooklyn Nolan, Sara Roberts, Laura Shepard and Katheryn Wilber.
The Lady Eagles remain in Region 8-AAAAA along with Clarke Central and Loganville. Flowery Branch, Heritage, Jefferson and Winder-Barrow also join them.
The 2022 Lady Eagles went 11-5-1 and made the state playoffs. Now, a new year is set to kick off for Eastside on Tuesday, Jan. 31.
No matter the opponent, Singleton wants to see his team rise to the occasion in each match throughout 2023.
“I always like to tell the girls every year there is a game or two that if you mess around you will lose,” Singleton said. “There are also two or three games that you may not be favored in but, if you work hard enough, you can win. Then the 50-50 games you can win a few more than you lose and you win the ones you are supposed to, it puts you in a good situation.”
In the Lady Eagles' preseason scrimmage on Jan. 26, they triumphed over defending Region 5-AAAAA champion Luella 10-0. Leal netted six goals, Davis had three and Dailey scored one.
Hollifield made two saves in the match, too.