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Lady Eagles chase playoffs in new region

COVINGTON - Teamwork will be an integral part for this year's Eastside girls soccer team.

"We have a goal to win or lose as a team," Eastside coach Libba Willcox said. "We are playing more small-sided games at practice and working on teamwork more than we have in the past."

Willcox feels that by establishing a team-oriented concept, the girls will trust each other more and therefore have a better passing game.

"Any team can play kick ball. A passing game is harder to defend," Willcox said. "So we are working on more two-touch games and moving to get open for the player with the ball."

Besides playing with more teamwork and better passing, other goals for the Lady Eagles include making it to the Class AAA playoffs as well as keeping their opponents from scoring more than two goals per game.

Eastside already laid the groundwork with Kayla Jones returning at keeper.

Jones will get some help keeping the ball out of the net with Kayla Bruno and Brooke Tomlin playing defense.

"I am hoping to convince Elizabeth Reich to play defense this year rather than center mid. We are looking to transition old players to defense and let the newer girls play where they are comfortable," Willcox said.

Some of the newer players that should help on offense are Tara Harrison and Amber LaFond at forward and Emily House in the midfield.

"These new players will help us greatly as well as those girls that stepped up from JV," Willcox said.

While LaFond and Harrison will provide a lot of offense, Eastside's main threat to find the back of the net will be with Ashton Ziadie.

According to Willcox, Ziadie is Eastside's top scorer and believes that she has improved greatly in the offseason.

Even though defensive play will play a big part of Eastside's goals, Willcox knows that, at the moment, that is the weakest area on the team.

"I believe that it will take a few games to have them calm down and become comfortable with each other. Our strength as a team is that we have been together for years now," Willcox said. "Most girls know how everyone on the team plays and how I coach so communication is clear and we all know what to expect."

Giving the Lady Eagles a chance to make an impact and a run at the playoffs is the fact that they have changed regions.

"Moving down to AAA will help us tremendously because we no longer have to compete with Salem, Heritage and Loganville. We will have a better season," Willcox said. "I believe the biggest competitors will be Oconee and Stephens."

Manny Fils can be reached at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: At a glance

Team: Eastside girls soccer

Coach: Libba Willcox (second season)

Last year's record: 9-6-0

Key returning player: Kayla Jones

First game: Tuesday vs. Madison County