COVINGTON, Ga. — Coach Joel Singleton opened his 10th campaign in charge of the Eastside Lady Eagles’ soccer team with a hard-earned 3-2 scrimmage victory over the Lady Spartans of Athens Academy Friday night at Homer Sharp Stadium.
Eastside (11-7-1 in 2018) reached the Sweet 16 of the Class AAAA state playoffs last season while Athens Academy (21-2 in 2018) finished as the Class A State runner-up.
The Lady Spartans dominated play in the first half with excellent ball control and ball movement. If not for the play of Eastside goalkeeper Anna Shelton, the final outcome could have been very different. The Lady Eagles took advantage of a couple of breakaway plays to take a 2-0 lead in spite of the impressive performance by Athens Academy.
Just over four minutes in, Mya Cummings sent a through-ball from deep in Eastside territory to Aralyn Everett who dribbled into Lady Spartans territory before sending it back to her left to a sprinting Cummings who then made a beautiful cross to Everett who netted the opening goal to give Eastside the 1-0 lead.
Everett later stole a Lady Spartan pass, turned to her left and drove the ball down the right sideline, eventually launching a long shot from the far right that found the Athens net to give Eastside a 2-0 lead with 25:45 until halftime.
Taylor Clements put the Lady Spartans on the scoreboard at the 23:19 mark of the first half to cut the Lady Eagles’ lead to 2-1. Shelton again made key saves to assure Eastside the 2-1 halftime advantage.
Athens Academy quickly scored the equalizer in the first two minutes of the second stanza.
Once again, Eastside converted on a breakaway play. Keeper Shelton punted the ball and a Lady Spartan defender got a foot on it, sending it forward to Everett. Everett used her speed to get open and send a shot to the far left of the Athens goal.
Unfortunately the shot hit the left post, careened back across the goal mouth where Everett dueled defenders from close range before sending a pass to her left that a wide open Bailey Love buried in the back of the net for what would prove to be the game-winning goal with 34:56 remaining to be played.
Possession in the second half was much more even than it was in the first.
After the match, Singleton expressed his satisfaction with the win.
"I'll take it,” he said. He was missing a few girls Friday night, mainly his starting goalkeeper, but he lauded the way his squad attacked the first action of the season.
“I’m proud of the girls. It was a good start for sure,” he said.
Eastside boys complete the scrimmage sweep with win
Eastside boys coach Champ Young began his record eighth soccer campaign in the night cap against Athens Academy, and did so in style, defeated the Spartans 3-2.
This season Young will break the school record he holds jointly with former coach, and current Eastside principal, Jeff Cher of seven years as head coach of the boys side. The Eagles (10-6-3 in 2018) were a Sweet 16 team last year. Athens Academy reached the Class A Final Four.
Both teams will jump right into Region 4-AAAA play to open the regular season when Eastside hosts Hampton at Sharp Stadium, with girls action beginning at 5:30 p.m. and the boys slated for a 7:30 p.m. start time.