LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — Coming into Wednesday night, both the Eastside Lady Eagles and Luella Lady Lions had been scorching the pitch with their high scoring ways.
Eastside had put up 30 goals in their previous three matches while Luella wasn’t far behind with 27. But those high-scoring results came against teams that weren’t necessarily in the upper echelon of Region 4-AAAA.
So conventional wisdom said that goals may be a bit tougher to come by when two of the top teams in the region met head to head.
So much for conventional wisdom.
The Eastside Lady Eagles kept up their high scoring form, while defensively stymying the Lions as they handed the Luella its first region loss of the season with an impressive 11-3 result.
It’s hard to pick a star in a game where so many Lady Eagles got on the stat sheet, but dynamic sophomore, Aralyn Everett and freshman Katie Oakley have to be at the top of that list with both earning a hat trick. Oakley also earned three assists, while Everett finished with two of her own.
Both players did an outstanding job of continuously pressuring the goal and staying active on the attack. Everett was most impressive with her ability to dribble around defenders and make excellent runs past the defense.
Lady Eagles head coach Joel Singleton was elated with his entire team’s effort. He said their ability to possess the ball was the ultimate key in what led to this dominant victory.
“I told them at halftime, ‘Let’s keep dominating possession,’ because all Luella wants to do is kick it up to No. 2 (Amari Thomas, who had all three of the Lady Lions goals),” Singleton said. “We’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”
Although Oakley and Everett accounted for over half of Eastside’s goals, the team’s attack was spread out, setting the stage for an array of Lady Eagles to score. Other players striking goals were freshman Bailey Love who scored a brace and junior Mya Cummings, sophomore Dallas Stephenson and freshman Lizzie Teasley with one goal apiece.
Spreading out the attack and having multiple strong scorers is what Singleton said he wants to do because it makes it tougher for future teams to create a plan on how to defend his.
“We talk a lot about just involving everybody, and we’ve had multiple players score in every game, which is important with what we’re trying to do,” he said. “ As long as we keep doing that, other teams can’t key in on one player.”
Now with 41 goals in their last four games, and an 11-goal outburst against a quality region foe, no one should doubt the Lady Eagles’ scoring prowess. Everett, who starred in Wednesday’s game, said that the team’s communication and ability to count on each other has led to this recent scoring explosion.
“We just work really well together as a team and just pass and communicate really well,” Everett. “I just want to help my team, and I know they will help me, so I just want to play my part.”
The Lady Eagles will look to keep their high level of play up in their next two games — tough matches, starting with Class AAA No. 5 Dawson County (6-1) on Friday and then Heritage-Conyers next Tuesday with both games being played at Sharp Stadium.
It ought to be a fun pair of non-region games that could help Eastside toughen up even more once state tournament time comes. The matchup with the Lady Patriots, always intriguing because of the schools’ proximity and the fact that each squad has players who’ve played together or against each other in the past on other non-high school teams, got a little charge from some playful Twitter smack-talking this week.
As a response, Singleton said he and his bunch will be amped up for the challenge of knocking off an always-solid Heritage program for the first time.
“Well, our ladies just scored 11 goals, so there you go,” Singleton said. “Heritage can talk all they want. We’ve never beaten Heritage in girls soccer, but we’re not afraid of Heritage. They’re good and we respect them, but we’re not afraid of them.”