COVINGTON, Ga. — It felt like a long time coming, but it’s fitting that the highest ranked Eastside boys soccer team in school history made history Tuesday night against a long time rival.
The Class AAAA No. 4 Eagles defeated the Heritage Patriots for the first time ever by a score of 2-1 to notch their seventh straight victory of the season and give them even more confidence heading into their next region challenge.
It was an Anthony Lee goal that came with 35:10 left to play in the second half that put the Eagles over the top in this historic victory. Lee’s goal was set up by midfielder Jordan Beam who dribbled past two Patriot defenders before sending in a high arching cross to a waiting Lee on the far side of the goal.
The final 35 minutes of play would be some of the most physical and hard-fought soccer that you would ever see at the high school.
There were plenty of cards to go around in this match for both teams and with the physicality of the match, injuries were a concern as well. Eagles head coach Champ Young is happy with the victory, but happier to walk away without losing any players.
“It’s definitely good to have a test like that and play a state caliber team,” said Young. “Whew, Yeah I hope (there were no major injuries). That was our number one concern because we have Druid (Hills) next week, but that’s definitely a big sigh of relief right now.”
The first two goals of the game were only 1:09 apart from each other. Eastside’s Jackson Jolley opened up the scoring with a well-timed run and excellent low-driven shot into the far side of the goal, putting the Eagles on top 1-0.
The Patriots quickly responded with the equalizer, placing the game at a 1-1 tie at halftime.
In a close contest where the difference was only one goal, Eastside’s defensive execution was absolutely pivotal. The Eagles did a good job of keeping Heritage from seeing many quality opportunities against goal keeper Jackson Hamby.
However with 6:10 left to play, Hamby was put to the test and made a miraculous decision-altering save that impressed the Eagles head coach, but did not surprise him.
“He finds his way with those,” Young said. “That one that Khafri (Jamison) hit, he hit it well and he was there for it just like he has been all year.”
Although this was a historic win for the Eagles, “Meh” may not be how you would expect Young to describe his viewpoint of the game, but he did just that. He was not completely satisfied with the play of his team and knows that they could have played a more sound game while keeping their game plan intact.
“We definitely could have come unraveled a lot more than we did and thankfully we didn’t,” said Young. “Momentum wise, I don’t feel like we played all that well. We kind of got pulled down into the game that we were trying not to play, which was being more physical and tactically we didn’t quite get it done like we wanted to.”
The Eagles (9-1-1, 4-0 in Region 4-AAAA) will get one day of rest before they go on the road and get back into region play as they take on the Henry County Warhawks.
Young said the focus is on the Warhawks for now but with another tough test looming in Druid Hills — the only other team in Region 4-AAAA with an undefeated region record — they will be eager to get back to what they do in practice in preparation for a game that could decide who walks away with the region crown.