The 2012 Eastside Lady Eagles had to work hard to salvage their season and to earn the right to play one of the top teams in the state.
They did both.
The No. 4 ranked Columbus Blue Devils sent Eastside home from the Sweet Sixteen with a resounding 10-0 victory over the Lady Eagles at Columbus State University Wednesday.
Eastside played even with the Lady Devils early but trailed 1-0 after allowing a long goal in the eighth minute of play. Soon after, the momentum changed dramatically.
Eastside's leading scorer, senior captain Amber Lafond, appeared to be fouled hard from behind, inside the 18-yard box. However, allowed to play on, within 25 seconds the Lady Devils increased their lead with another bomb from the midfield with 29:05 left in the first half.
Eastside would never recover.
However, the Eagles remained focused throughout the match as they have done during the 2012 season, which led to Eastside's first-ever second-round appearance.
Sitting at 2-5 on March 13, prospects for a return to the playoffs for a record fourth straight time looked dim. The Lady Eagles had lost two matches while scoring two goals for the first time since the 2009 campaign and defensive woes had resulted in 20 goals allowed in their first seven games.
It was then that third-year coach Joel Singleton made what looked like a risky change in his lineup that sent senior captain Tara Harrison, who was leading the team in assists at the time with eight in seven games, to defense.
The result was four straight shutout wins, a huge 2-1 win over a terrific Spalding squad, a best ever 7-1 region record, a 10-1-1 finish, with the only loss being to AAAA state ranked Heritage and a school first-ever first round playoff win over Westside of Augusta.
Lafond led the Eastside offense by scoring 30 goals and recording 18 assists.
Junior forward Sarah Gaddis would net 27 goals and five assists.
Junior defender Kari Dylong made a habit out of serving up great balls that resulted in goals scored off her corner kicks, accounting for most of her seven assists.
Harrison would add five goals and finish with 14 assists, many by-passing midfield and going straight to Lady Eagle forwards.
Senior Savannah Hill had four goals and eight assists. Fellow senior Emily House notched five goals and six assists. Sophomore Alex Morvik and freshman Alli Coberth also contributed on offense.
Defensively, junior keeper Carly Farrow was credited with 141 saves and ten shutouts during the regular season and first round game.
Sophomore Emily Carroll contributed on both offense and defense. Junior Victoria Reich, a first-year player, ended up a starter on the defensive back line.
Sophomore Sarah Parker was a physical presence for the Lady Eagles defense.
Also contributing to the Eastside total team effort were sophomores Alexis Langford and Becka McKelvey, juniors Kylee Byrne and Ebonee Best and senior Alexis Crawford.
Freshmen Haley Walden, Brooke Arwood and Jordan Savage saw valuable playing time for Eastside.
Senior captains Lafond and Harrison leave behind a legacy of teamwork and success.
Both four-year starters and two-year captains, the duo led Eastside to four straight state playoff appearances, the best single season in Lady Eagles history in 2011 when they went 12-3-2, a first-ever second round state playoff game and a four-year school best record of 45-21-3.
The girls also leave Coach Singleton with a program best record of 35-16-3 in his three years at the helm.
Lafond leaves with 97 goals and 59 assists and Harrison with 25 goals and 49 assists.