Eagles put together a strong year
Eastside ends six-year playoff drought in 2009

COVINGTON - It's tough to find fault with a soccer season that produced 12 wins and a playoff berth for the first time in the last six years.

That was the case for the Eastside boys soccer team, which finished the 2009 campaign with an overall record of 12-3, including 5-2 in Area 8-AAA, and earned a trip to the Class AAA playoffs as the No. 3 seed.

The Eagles lost to Creekview in the first round on penalty kicks.

However, the success shown by the team was not a surprise to coach Trent Weiser. From the very beginning, he knew how good his team could be.

"We had a good team that played well together and did well against most of the teams in the beginning of the season," he said. "I always enjoyed being around the team. They were a great group of guys."

Eastside started the season strong going 4-0, scoring 15 goals while only allowing three. Its first defeat was a 3-2 setback to Oconee County. The Warriors finished the season as the No. 5-ranked team in Class AAA.

Even after feeling the taste of a loss, the Eagles still were not ready to stop believing in themselves.

"The Oconee game was a tough loss because it was so close and we had a couple of very bad breaks during the game. Everyone seemed to handle it well, we played very well against a very good team," Weiser said. "I believe at that time they were ranked ninth in state, so that gave us some hope and a good idea of our abilities."

Keeping the Eagles' drive alive were their top scorers, Caleb Kernan and Yanrick Tinker. Kernan paced the team with 14 goals. Tinker added 12 to Eastside's total of 54 goals for the season.

Both Kernan and Tyler Edmiston proved willing to be team players with six assists each. As a team, Eastside finished with 29 assists.

The other bitter loss suffered by Eastside in the regular season was a 2-0 loss to Stephens County.

Even though losing an important area game was big, what hurt the most was the way the Eagles played. It was the only game all season where they failed to put the ball in the goal.

"We had a couple of key players out of the game due to injuries, and I think it kind of hurt us mentally before the game began," Weiser said. "The whole game we did not play up to our abilities and made many mistakes that ended up costing us the game."

While the Eagles were held scoreless once, they were able to keep opponents off the scoreboard seven times. A big part of that feat was keeper Greg Morrell's 111 saves.

While Weiser is proud of some of Eastside's accomplishments - making it to the playoffs and finishing with a winning record - there were a few goals where they fell short.

"Not moving past the first round and also finishing third in the (area) were really the only two goals we did not accomplish. I was hoping to make it at least to the second round and to finish either No. 1 or 2 in the (area). But I am happy with what we did," he said. "They made my day go by a little better and I looked forward to every day after school rather being practice or a game. I wish I could have this same team again next year."

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