COVINGTON, Ga. — On a beautiful Friday night at Sharp Stadium, the Eastside girls’ and boys’ soccer teams met Clarke Central in a pair of Region 8-AAAAA battles between ranked teams.
The Lady Eagles came into the match 5-2-1 on the year and ranked No. 5 in Class AAAAA, while the Lady Gladiators entered at 5-3-0 and ranked No. 10 in the classification. The nightcap saw the No. 10 Eagles enter at 6-1-1 and the No. 5 Gladiators sitting at 6-1-1.
The schools earned a split, with Eastside winning the girls’ game and Clarke Central collecting a win in the boys’ game. All four teams played up to their respective rankings, which made for an exciting night of soccer.
The Lady Eagles got things going quick in the opening minute when Aralyn Everett sent the ball forward to Lizzie Teasley, who put Eastside ahead, 1-0. The Lady Gladiators quickly tied it up with 34:13 on the clock on a goal from Hannah Barnett.
After making a save, Eastside goalkeeper Anna Shelton punted the ball over the midfield mark where Everett touched it forward to Teasley, who sped past defenders on a breakaway and netted a shot to put the Lady Eagles up 2-1 at the 24:35 mark. Less than two minutes later, Eastside's Mia Mostek stole the ball and launched a missile from 30 yards out to make it 3-1 with 22:59 left before halftime.
The score would remain 3-1 until Clarke Central's Barnett was fouled in the scoring area by Shelton, who was attempting to stop her from shooting. Shelton received a yellow card and was temporarily replaced in goal by Teasley. Barnett calmly
put the penalty kick into the net to pull one back for Clarke Central.
The first half would end with the Lady Eagles ahead 3-2.
Eastside started the second half much like the first by scoring a goal in the first two minutes to stretch its lead to 4-2 on a beautiful goal by Lauren Davis off a double assist from Everett and Teasley. The score would hold until Barnett completed her hat trick, scoring her third goal of the game with 12:28 left to play.
The Lady Eagles (6-2-1) held on for the 4-3 win, improving to 2-1-0 in region play while Clarke Central (5-4-0) dropped to 1-1-0. Greenbrier went into the weekend in first place with a 3-0-0 region record on the basis of their 3-1 win over Eastside last Tuesday.
"What a game. That was an old school dog fight." said Lady Eagle head coach Joel Singleton after the match. "Both teams played hard and we were fortunate to play long enough and hard enough to make a big difference in the outcome on both offense and defense. I'm proud of our team. Everyone contributed in some way and helped us pull out a huge win.
“We switched things up and it paid huge dividends for us. Lizzie Teasley set the tone early and got us on the board fast. Aralyn Everett is a fantastic passer and she found Lizzie in the perfect spot and that really gave us a ton of confidence early. We had our fair share of adversity but I'm glad the girls kept working and we hung on for the win."
The boys’ match that followed was another thriller.
Clarke Central took a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the match. Just six minutes later, Eastside's Caden Coggins knotted the match at 1-1 when he scored on a header off a Tanner Beam cross in the 21st minute. The first half would end tied at one goal apiece.
In the second stanza, Beam just missed wide on a shot in the 55th minute before the Gladiators added goals in the 59th and 65th minutes to put Clarke Central ahead 3-1. Eastside's Owen Lane barely missed high on a shot from inside the 18-yard box with only minutes remaining.
The 3-1 victory leaves Clarke Central (7-1-1) in 1st place in Region 8-AAAAA at 2-0-0 ahead of Eastside (6-2-1) at 2-1-0.
Both Eastside teams returned to action Tuesday night as South Gwinnett visited Sharp Stadium for a pair of non-region games.
Mason Wittner, sports editor of The Covington News, and Cale Coggins contributed to this report.