The Eastside girls’ soccer team is chasing history.
After reaching the state playoffs for three straight years, the Eagles are looking to do something that hasn’t been done before, make it four in a row.
The Eagles have improved in each of the last four seasons, going from eight to 10 wins, and then upping it to 11 and 12 in coach Joel Singleton’s first two seasons. Now in his third season, the former Eastside basketball coach is hoping to lead a team full of veterans, mixed with exciting new talent, to an even higher win total.
“Our goal is to always try and improve on the year before,” Singleton said.
The goal may be a little daunting with a stronger schedule pitting the Eagles against teams such as Heritage and Apalachee. Eastside travels perennial contenders Region 8-AAAA contenders, the Wildcats, on Friday.
It’s all in preparation for the Region 4-AAA schedule, which begins on March 6 at Drew. Eastside finished tied for second in the region last year, but due to a coin toss was seeded fourth in the state playoffs, losing 4-1 to Mary Persons in the first round.
This year, not only are nine players returning from the 2011 varsity team, but two more are coming back with varsity experience.
Junior Kari Dylong was an All-region player in her freshman season, before suffering an ACL injury that kept her out for the entire last season. Dylong is recovered this year and will add experience to the Eagles’ defensive lineup.
Defensive midfielder Emily House also didn’t play all of last season, after being a varsity member during her sophomore season in 2010. She sat out due to personal preference and returns this year to add even more leadership.
“The biggest thing is experience,” Singleton said. “They bring back a lot of experience, and a lot of games played. I expect them to bring back a lot of soccer knowledge.”
That knowledge will match with players such as Amber Lafond, Karlie McCallum, Sarah Gaddis and Tara Harrison.
Lafond, who had 23 goals and 18 assists last season, teamed with fellow senior McCallum, who had 23 goals, to provide much of the Eagles firepower.
They will team up with freshman Allie Coberth in Singleton’s attacking style of play. Coberth, a midfield and forward, brings plenty of club experience to Eastside, along with speed and quickness.
“She’s a very skillful player,” Singleton said. “She’s a small kid, not very tall, but she’s very quick and works really well with others.
She’ll mesh into the Eagles formations of 4-4-2 or 3-2-3-2, both featuring multiple strikers, which will put pressure on opposing defenses.
When opposing offenses put pressure on Eastside, it will look to a three-year starter in net. Carley Farrow tallied 126 saves in her sophomore seasons, allowing 25 goals.
All facets of the Eagles’ game will have to blend in order for an unprecedented fourth-straight playoff appearance when the state tournament begins on May 4.