COVINGTON, Ga. — The Eastside Lady Eagles' potent offense was shutdown by the ninth-ranked Woodward Academy Lady War Eagles Thursday night in a 3-0 setback that gave coach Joel Singleton’s bunch their first loss of the season.
It was a tough loss for a team that came into Thursday night’s home region matchup flying high off the momentum of convincing 2-0 wins at Whitewater and against Walnut Grove last week.
But Singleton said the raised stakes of a key region matchup against a team that’s seemingly had Eastside’s number may have weighed on his young squad’s psyche a little bit.
“Woodward’s older, you know, and we’re playing mostly ninth and 10th grade players,” Singleton said. “A couple of older girls. Everybody’s contributing, but it’s just one of those things that comes with experience.”
Eastside (4-1-0, 1-1-0 in Region 4-AAAA) had the first scoring opportunity of the match nine minutes in when a corner kick from freshman Lizzie Teasley found the far corner and the foot of leading scorer Aralyn Everett.
Everett's shot from close range was blocked by a Woodward defender in what would prove to be the best chance of the night for the Lady Eagles.
Woodward (3-2-2, 3-0-0 in Region 4-AAAA) netted the game-winning goal with 21:43 left in the first half when Sierra Bagwell crossed the ball from the deep right to Brooke Sard who headed it in to give the Lady War Eagles the 1-0 lead.
Woodward followed with a couple of shots within the next minutes.The first was a hard struck shot by Hayden Twiss that Eastside keeper Anna
Shelton knocked up and over the cross bar with 19:18 on the clock. With 17:56 remaining in the half, Twiss sent a ball in from the left side that Bagwell volleyed into the goal to make it 2-0.
“Those two early really hurt us,” Singleton said. “Lauren Gates and Jordyn Jones, our two center backs, maybe (had) some miscommunication there, but I can’t say anything really because they’ve played awesome all year. It’s just not stuff we’ve been doing.”
At the 13:02 mark, Dallas Stephenson sent a pass forward to a charging Everett that the sliding Woodward keeper got her hand on, deflecting it and then gathering it in to prevent a possible shot by Everett.
With less than 11 minutes left till halftime, a Woodward shot hit the cross bar and bounced down in front of the Eastside goal.
Lady Eagle Malaya Yamasaki cleared it away. Later Shelton punched a Woodward free kick shot back out on the pitch to keep the score 2-0 going into the break.
Second half possession was controlled by Woodward, preventing any possible Eastside comeback. Eleven of Shelton's 15 saves were made in the second half.
Singleton lauded her efforts in helping keep the match from turning into a route.
“Anna’s been stellar all year,” he said. “That game easily could’ve been 8-0 or 9-0 with some of the stops she made. The great side is it keeps goals out, but the down side is you give up a lot of corners, but we held our own on those. Anna doesn’t complain. She’s been banged up this week and nobody would know. She’s been hurting really bad, but she’s laying her body out and sacrificing everything.”
What chances Eastside did create where collected by the Lady War Eagle keeper before a shot on goal could be fired.
Everett eventually fired two shots that forced two quick saves by the Woodward keeper around the nine minute mark.
With 2:53 remaining to be played, Sard closed out the scoring with a rocket from just outside the 18-yard box to give the Lady War Eagles
the 3-0 Region 4-AAAA victory.
“Our possessions, we didn’t connect (Thursday),” Singleton said. “We had a couple of injuries Tuesday night that slowed us down, but that’s no excuse.”
The good news for the Lady Eagles is that they won’t have long to stew over their Woodward misfortunes. Eastside will play region foes Luella (Tuesday) and Salem (Friday) on the road. Both games are scheduled for 5:30 pm kickoffs.
“Now we know what we’re looking at,” Singleton said. “There’s always a chance of Druid Hills beating Woodward down the road, and if we take care of our business you never know what can happen. But right now, we just have to keep playing and control what we can control. There’s a lot of things ahead of us. We were runner up last year, and that’s a home game in the playoffs. Also, we just want to keep adding to our win total and build our confidence. We’re still young.”
Gabriel Stovall contributed to this report.