COVINGTON - The Eastside girls soccer team has something this season that it's lacked for a long time: experience.
The experience already has proven beneficial as the Lady Eagles kicked off their season with a 2-1 win over North Oconee before losing 4-2 to Clarke Central and 3-1 to Shiloh.
Of the 17 players taking the field for coach Libba Willcox, only two have never played the game before. It's a big contrast from the previous season, in which only two Lady Eagles had any soccer experience.
Returning from last year are Taylor Queen, Katie Glidewell, Brandi Richards, Elizabeth Reich, Hannah Parker, Kayla Jones, Ashley Turner, Katie Herren, Maggie Shirah, Laura Nava and Ashton Tehrani.
"Most of the girls playing varsity are returning, so we have a team that's played well together. They've either played club ball together or they played varsity together," Willcox said. "They're more of a family; they work together and they all want to play and been looking forward for the season to start."
Corey Guthre, Jessi Blare, Kayla Bruno and Ashley Aycox played on the JV and varsity teams, so they have a taste of what to expect.
New to the team are Megan Kildahl and Brooke Tomlin.
Willcox is hoping that she will be able to turn this experience into more than the five wins the Lady Eagles had last season. What makes her confident that this team will finish the year with a winning record is the fact that she will be able to start teaching the game of soccer.
"They have the skills that we need now, so I can teach them the game of soccer more rather than just teaching them the basic skills," she said. "I think there's a great possibility to win at least seven but probably more like 11 (games).
"We have a potential to do something that they haven't in a while because they've gone out there and played together in the offseason. They've played together and they've been working toward it. They're really passionate about the game which I haven't seen at Eastside before."
In order to win, the Lady Eagles have to find a way to improve on offense and defense. Last year, they scored 26 goals and allowed 64.
Manny Fils can be reached at email@example.com.
SideBar: At a glance
Team: Eastside girls soccer
Coach: Libba Willcox, first season
Last year: 5-9 overall, 1-4 Region 8-AAAA South
Next game: Feb. 25 at Lovejoy, 5 p.m.