COVINGTON, Ga. — In an early-season battle for first place in Region 8-AAAAA, the Class AAAAA No. 5 ranked Eastside Lady Eagles (5-2-1, 1-1-0) and the Greenbrier Lady Wolfpack (4-1-1, 2-0-0) faced off at Sharp Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The first half was an extremely well-played and even match. Scoring opportunities were few and far between.
As the game clock was winding down, Greenbrier's Kaitlyn Thompson passed the ball into the 18-yard scoring box to Ansley Gibbs. Gibbs sent a short pass back out to Abigail Bias, who shot the ball towards the Lady Eagles' goal. The ball deflected up off a Lady Eagle defender and bounced just out of the reach of diving goalkeeper Anna Shelton and into the goal to give the Lady Wolfpack a 1-0 lead with only 27 seconds left on the clock before halftime.
Only 1:28 into the second half, the Lady Wolfpack completed an incredible two minutes on the game clock when Thompson sent a thru ball forward to Sydney Swanson, who shot the ball past Shelton, who came off her line and made a sliding attempt to block it. The goal put Greenbrier up 2-0.
Eastside fought back. Aralyn Everett switched the field when she dribbled the ball from the left side to the middle of the pitch before passing it to Bailey Love on the right side of the 18-yard box. Bailey one-touched the ball toward the Greenbrier goal where Everett fired it in to get the Lady Eagles on the scoreboard with 31:29 remaining in the match.
With 25:52 on the clock, Eastside was called for a handball in the 6-yard box, creating a penalty kick situation for the Lady Wolfpack. Thompson calmly shot the PK into the back of the Eastside net to put Greenbrier ahead 3-1.
The Lady Eagles never quit, creating numerous chances in the late stages of the match. With 19:30 left to play, Lizzie Teasley fired a long shot that just missed to the left of the Lady Wolfpack goal. With 10:30 on the game clock, Everett sent a long thru ball to Love, who outran a defender to the ball and fired a shot wide right of the Greenbrier goal. Everett sent another pass to Lauren Davis, whose shot missed just left of the goal as the horn sounded to end the game.
Lady Eagle Coach Joel Singleton noted: "Tough loss tonight. It certainly wasn't the outcome we wanted but give Greenbrier credit. We had two goals that were tough luck against us. A deflection and a handball that resulted in a PK. Those aside we played them even on the scoreboard. Anna Shelton and our defense played a heck of a game. It just wasn't our night. Our offense played a much stronger second half. Bailey Love and Aralyn Everett connected on a great goal for us. We just have to keep working to get better. It's a hard region we are in. We've got to win every game and take it one at a time."
In the nightcap, the Class AAAAA No. 10-ranked Eagles (6-1-1, 2-0-0) took on the Greenbrier Wolfpack (0-3-1, 0-2-0).
In a monumental defensive battle, the match was tied 0-0 at the half and at the end of regulation. As the match was a region game, it went into extra time. After two OT periods the match was still knotted at 0-0 so the game moved to PKs.
Eastside's Caden Coggins and Demba Fofana converted their PKs while Eagle goalkeeper Garrison King made two big saves and Greenbrier's last PK attempt hit off the Eastside goal post to give Eastside the 1-0 victory (2-1 in PKs). Eastside's King played outstanding throughout the match and the Eagle defense refused to yield while playing under intense pressure the entire game.
Next up, the Eastside squads will entertain the Clarke Central Gladiators on Friday at Sharp Stadium in Region 8-AAAAA play.
All four teams come into the match ranked in the Class AAAAA Top 10. The Lady Eagles are ranked No. 5 while the Clarke Central girls are ranked No. 10. The Eagles are ranked No. 10 while their Clarke Central counterparts are ranked No. 5.
The Lady Eagles are scheduled for a 5:30 pm kickoff, with the Eagles set to begin at 7:30 pm.
Cale Coggins contributed to this report.