JEFFERSON, Ga. — The sixth-ranked Eastside Lady Eagles met No. 10 Jackson County Tuesday in a soccer match with huge consequences in the Region 8-AAAAA state playoff picture.
The game did not disappoint.
An end-to-end battle from the opening whistle saw both teams’ defensive players and net-minders stay busy throughout the entire match before the Lady Eagles prevailed with a 4-3 victory.
“What a game. We knew we were in for a battle today. I was proud of the fight and effort,” Eastside head coach Joel Singleton said. “We knew what Jackson’s strengths were and we did our best to contain them. We had a good offensive attack when we connected with our forwards."
Eastside goalkeeper Anna Shelton and her Jackson County counterpart Avery Wortel made several great saves in the game. Both squad’s defenders were forced to stay active and made outstanding plays the entire game.
In a 50-50 match, Katie Oakley gave Eastside a 1-0 lead when she scored at the 31:07 mark of the first half off a ball from Lizzie Teasley that went across the goal mouth from close range to the opposite side where Oakley kicked it in.
Just under four minutes later, Lady Panther Lindsey Fowler sent a beautiful corner kick over leaping Lady Eagle goalkeeper Anna Shelton’s hands and into the Eastside net despite a terrific effort to head it away by Oakley. The 1-1 tie would last until a Bailey Love corner kick was passed by Kyli Greer to Lauren Davis whose shot from close range was blocked into the path of Teasley. Teasley’s shot was also blocked but Aralyn Everett fired a followup that found the back of the Jackson County goal with 9:24 left in the half. The half would end with Eastside ahead 2-1.
In the second half Everett had a breakaway that the Lady Panther goalkeeper broke up, but fouled Everett in the process. Because their keeper received a yellow card, Jackson County had to send in their backup keeper for the penalty kick.
Lady Eagle Mia Mostek sent a well-placed PK into the back of the Lady Panthers' net to put Eastside ahead 3-1 with 29:18 left to play. With 23:18 on the clock after an attempted clearance by a Lady Eagle defender, Delaney Weatherly sent a hard shot that hit off the lower left post from the top of the 18-yard box to bring Jackson County back to within one goal at 3-2. Love put Eastside up 4-2 when she scored a header goal off a corner kick from Sophia Leal with 19:34 remaining. Not to be denied, the Lady Panthers scored 18 seconds later on a hard shot into the Eastside goal by Fowler to pull Jackson County back within one at 4-3. The Lady Eagles held the one goal lead to the end.
"The first half was a struggle but we really did a nice job of connecting in the second half," Singleton said. "I was proud of our toughness. We played a physical team and withstood every punch. We get the rest of the week off as far as a match and we need the rest. From here we just keep working to get better."
With the win, Eastside improved to 10-2-1 overall and 5-1-0 in Region 8-AAAAA with one region match left to play on April 2 at Johnson (Gainesville). Greenbrier leads the Region at 5-0-0 with games against Clarke Central and Loganville remaining. For Eastside to win the region, Greenbrier must lose to both teams and the Lady Eagles must beat Johnson (Gainesville).