The saying "offense sells tickets but defense wins championships," was the best way to describe Eastside's 2-1 win over Spalding in girls' soccer action Thursday night.
The Lady Eagles (7-5, 5-1 4-AAA) swarming defense made play after play and withstood 25 shots and five corner kicks during the match in which possession was dominated by the Lady Jaguars.
In the meantime, Eastside was efficient with limited offensive opportunities. Thanks to the win Eastside will be headed back to the state playoffs for a school record fourth straight time.
In the second half the Lady Jaguars (6-4, 3-2 4-AAA) outshot Eastside 14-3.
Once again, the Lady Eagles made their chances count when Tara Harrison sent a corner kick to Emily House who headed the ball into the far post for the game winner with just over 14 minutes left.
We got that break late in the game," Eastside coach Joel Singleton said. "Our only corner kick of the game was perfectly executed. Tara Harrison put a perfect ball in the box and Emily House did her job, got her head on it, and it was a great finish."
Throughout the match the Lady Eagles defense cleared ball after ball, blocked several shots, headed away others, intercepted balls in the box and repeatedly turned away Spalding scoring chances.
"Spalding's a great team," Singleton said. "Not good, they're really good. We played as hard as we've played all year long."
When the Lady Jaguars did get past her defenders, Eastside keeper Carly Farrow made the saves.
"The defense played lights out; best game they've played all year," Singleton said.
"Keeper Carly Farrow kept us in the game time and again and it made for a huge advantage and helped our confidence."
Less than 9 minutes into the match, the Lady Jaguars Olivia O'Brien sent a shot across the goal mouth that bounced off the far post and was snapped up by Farrow. It would be a sign of things to come. Farrow would go on to tally 14 saves on the night.
With just less than 15 minutes before halftime Harrison sent a long, flighted ball from the back to Sarah Gaddis.
Gaddis took it deep before she turned it back to Amber Lafond.
Lafond sent the ball forward into the scoring area where Gaddis beat the Lady Jaguars' keeper to the ball and scored to put Eastside in the lead 1-0.
It was Eastside's only shot of the half.
Spaldings' O'Brien tied the match 1-1 with 10:30 on the clock when she got behind the Lady Eagles defense.
It was the first goal Eastside had surrendered in over four games.
Sophomore Alexis Langford preserved the win with a huge save on a Spalding shot when she headed the ball away from the goal with 6:14 left in the game.
Eastside will host Henry County April 10.