COLLEGE PARK, Ga. — In taking down Class AAAA No. 1 Woodward Academy on the road Tuesday night, Eastside boys soccer coach Champ Young learned more about his team from the game’s aftermath than anything that happened during regulation.
Eastside defeated Woodward 2-2 (5-4) with the combination of a penalty kick by Tyler Davis and a big time save from senior keeper Jackson Gann. It may very well be the biggest win in Eastside soccer’s 22-year history — certainly a potentially program shifting win for Young, now in his seventh year as coach.
But there was no raucous celebration for the Eagles after sticking such a feather in their cap, as, perhaps, some may have envisioned. And that, said Young, tells him all he needed to know about his team’s confidence when playing against the state’s best.
“We came in firmly believing that the way we prepared, we expected to win,” Young said. “After the game, there wasn’t a big commotion or anything. They lined up and shook hands and acted like they belonged here.”
Eastside improved its record to 2-2-2 overall, with games against Salem and Newton this week, and then major tests next week against Class AAAAAA No. 9 Heritage-Conyers and at Class AAAA No. 2 Chestatee.
But more than improving its record, the win also gave Eastside an upper hand in the Region 4-AAAA standings, not to mention momentum as it continues to progress through a gauntlet schedule.
“This win is affirmation, man,” Young said. “It’s proving what we already know. We can do things like this. It’s something the other coaches and I express as much as possible. We schedule over our heads at the beginning of the year because we know what we’re capable of. We’re just as good as anybody if we do what we’re supposed to do.”
Eastside battled through the elements, as the Woodward Academy turf remained slick due to a full morning and afternoon of rain, despite sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s at game time.
It was Zach Glover who was the early game star as he accounted for both Eastside goals during regulation. The first one came at the 15-minute mark of the first half when he converted on a pass from Jackson Jolley, giving Eastside a 1-0 lead.
Woodward settled in, first with the 1-1 equalizer off a corner kick, and then adding a second score to take a 2-1 lead. But before the half, Tristan Aldredge dished to Glover for equalizer, tying the score at 2-2 at half time.
It would stay 2-2 throughout the duration of the second half and both overtimes, until the shootout heroics by Tyler Davis and Gann.
Young called the effort “a fantastic team win,” and cited players like Aldridge, Kevin Manley and freshman centerback Liam McGiboney, who filled in for Jordan Beam who’s currently playing in Portugal.
“We moved some things around and we simplified some things as much as we could for Liam,” Young said. “But he had Tyler Davis next to him which was nothing but good, and Jackson Gann behind him talking to him. So it was, again, just a really quality team win.”
And regardless of what Eastside does next week when it takes on two more top-ranked, non-region opponents, Young said those games, in the grand scheme of things — win or lose — only help his team reach its ultimate goal.
“It’s a step up in competition for sure,” Young said. “But it really doesn’t mean anything. The only thing that means something is us getting ready for region play and us getting ready for state.”