COVINGTON, Ga. — Class AAAAA powerhouse Eastside welcomed Class AAAAAA Heritage to Homer Sharp Stadium on Thursday for Senior Night.
The clubs split the series, with the Lady Eagles (11-3-2) losing a thrilling match to the Lady Patriots and the Eagles soaring to a five-goal victory in the nightcap.
Both girls’ teams finished as runners-up in their respective regions this season and will continue play in the first round of their respective state playoff brackets beginning next week.
Heritage found the first true scoring chance of the match on a corner kick that was headed down toward the Lady Eagle goal. Eastside’s Anna Shelton made an outstanding diving save to bat the ball harmlessly away and keep the match scoreless with 33:31 left in the first half.
The Lady Eagles broke the scoreless tie with 22:27 on the game clock when Bailey Love sent a beautiful corner kick to Lizzie Teasley, who headed the ball into the Lady Patriots goal to give Eastside a 1-0 lead.
Heritage fought back and took the lead when it scored two goals within a minute and a half, the first by Morgan Baker with 14:42 left in the half off a nice pass and the second off a throw-in with 13:15 on the clock.
The Lady Patriots’ lead held until Eastside’s Aralyn Everett sent a low cross from the far right through the arms of the Heritage goalkeeper, which Mia Mostek tapped in with only 16 seconds remaining in the first half to knot the match at two goals apiece at the break.
Eastside created an opportunity that the Lady Patriots stopped when Everett crossed another ball in from the right to a charging Lauren Davis. The Heritage net-minder took the ball right off Davis’ foot with 29:32 left in the match.
Unfortunately, she was injured making the save and had to be replaced. Minutes later Heritage took the lead with 24:26 left in the game when Baker outran the Lady Eagle defenders and fired a shot around the Lady Eagles charging goalkeeper to put the Lady Patriots up 3-2.
With 22:43 on the game clock, Love sent a long-flighted free kick to Everett whose shot just missed wide right of the Heritage goal.
Later the pair almost hooked up again when a Love pass led to an Everett shot that bounced off the left post of the Lady Patriots goal with 12:50 remaining.
Just as they did at the end of the first half, the Lady Eagles created chances in the final three minutes of play. Mostek fired a shot that the Heritage keeper saved with 2:55 left to play. Later Everett launched a long free kick that rose over the Heritage goal with only 40 seconds left.
The 3-2 loss was the closest the Eastside Lady Eagles have ever come in a loss to Heritage. The Lady Patriots now hold a 13-1-0 advantage all-time against Eastside. After the match Eastside Coach Joel Singleton said:
“Tough one for us to lose but we played hard and well enough to win. We had some missed calls that did not help but that’s part of the game. No crying. It is what it is!”.
Singleton added: “We had some good play from Kyli Greer and Lily Oftedal, two of our more soft spoken seniors, today. They had great energy and their aggressiveness on the defensive side was good to see.
It was fun to recognize the senior class and say thank you for all the work they put into our program. I’m thankful for such good kids and families to share this experience with”.
Looking forward, Singleton said: “Playoffs start Tuesday. This week’s opponents were scheduled for that reason. To help us great prepared!”
Eastside will host a first-round game against Decatur High on Tuesday at Homer Sharp Stadium. Kickoff time to be determined.
Senior Night ceremonies followed that included 2020 and 2021 Eagle soccer seniors, the 2021 golf team seniors and the 2021 Lady Eagle soccer seniors.
Coach Champ Young and the Eastside Eagles (8-6-1) squared off against the Heritage Patriots (9-7-0) next.
The Eagles wasted little time by taking a 1-0 lead 32 seconds into the match on a goal by Demba Fofana.
Fofana added a header goal to stretch the lead to 2-0. His second goal would prove to be the game-winner.
Rodney Williams scored to make it 3-0, Liam McGiboney scored on a header off a free kick from Caden Coggins to put Eastside up 4-0. Coggins followed his own header that was blocked by the Heritage keeper with a shot into the net that gave Eastside a 5-0 lead. Winston Harris scored the Eagles final goal with 8 minutes left to play. The Patriots notched their only goal to prevent the shutout 2 minutes later.
The 6-1 victory was only the second time Eastside had ever won over Heritage. The most goals the Patriots had surrendered in their previous 15 games this season was 3. This years seniors went 2-0-1 against the Patriots in 2019 (2-1), 2020 (2-2) and 2021 (6-1). Heritage still holds a 9-2-3 advantage in the all-time series. The Patriots finished second in their region and are state playoff bound. The Eastside Eagles boys soccer team truly saved their best for last!
After the match Eastside Coach Champ Young said: “I was very proud of the boys as a whole. They came out and scored early and set the tone for the night. I told the boys before the game that we wanted people to know for sure who was the best in this area. We’ve looked up to that program for a long time and we felt that with the level of play on our schedule and our region that we would be prepared for them and the boys responded.”
Austin Aldridge contributed to this report.