GRIFFIN -- The Eastside girls soccer team punched their ticket for another trip to the Class AAA soccer playoffs with their 2-1 win over Spalding on Thursday.
The Lady Eagles (7-5 overall, 5-1 Area 4-AAA) swarming defense made play after play and withstood 25 shots and 5 corner kicks in a match in which possession was dominated by the Lady Jaguars (6-4, 3-2). In the meantime, Eastside was efficient with limited opportunities, and as a result of a 2-1 victory, will be headed back to the State Playoffs for a school record fourth straight time.
"Our girls had a solid week of practice and with only one game, it allowed us to focus on this one team and game. Spalding's a great team. Not good, they're really good. We played as hard as we've played all year long," said Eastside head coach Joel Singleton. "The girls are in good condition and it showed tonight. My goal for our team, coming in, was to play them tough and keep it close and that's give us a chance."
The Lady Eagles defense cleared ball after ball, blocked several shots, headed away others, intercepted balls in the box and repeatedly turned away Spalding scoring chances.
When the Lady Jags did get past her defenders, Eastside keeper Carly Farrow made the saves.
"I'm so proud of the entire team. The defense played lights out. Best game they've played all year. Keeper Carly Farrow kept us in the game time and again and it made for a huge advantage and helped our confidence," said Singleton. "It's a great way to leave for spring break. We'll keep working hard and hopefully we can continue our solid play."
Less than nine minutes into the match, the Lady Jaguars' Olivia O'Brien sent a shot across the goal mouth that bounced off the far post and was snapped up by Farrow. It would be a sign of things to come. Farrow would go on to record 14 saves on the night.
With less than 15 minutes before halftime, Tara Harrison sent a long, flighted ball from the back to Sarah Gaddis. Gaddis took it deep before she turned it back to Amber Lafond. Lafond sent the ball forward into the scoring area where Gaddis beat the Lady Jags keeper to the ball and scored to put Eastside in the lead 1-0. It was Eastside's only shot of the half. Spaldings' O'Brien tied the match 1-1 with 10:30 on the clock when she got behind the Lady Eagles defense. It was the first goal Eastside had surrendered in over four games.
"I reminded the girls at halftime that you've got to play until the whistle blows. 1-1 at half, we knew we had Spalding frustrated and questioning themselves a little bit. I told the girls to keep pressing them, don't worry about trying to make something happen, but to simply take the opportunities they gave us," said Singleton
The second half saw the Lady Jaguars outshoot Eastside 14-3. Once again, the Lady Eagles made their chances count when Harrison sent a corner kick in to Emily House who headed the ball into the far post for the game winner with just over 14 minutes left.
Sophomore Alexis Langford made a huge save on a Spalding shot when she headed the ball away from the goal with 6:14 left in the game.