CONYERS — The Eastside girls soccer team won their regular-season opener Wednesday night in Conyers, but it was so much more than just a win for head coach Joel Singleton and his Eagles.
For the first time in program history, Eastside scored a 2-1 victory over Heritage. The match was the 13th meeting all-time series between the two sides.
Eastside trailed at halftime 1-0 on a goal at the 31:34 mark by Heritage sophomore Morgan Baker. Heritage seemed to be more successful executing their offense in the first half than Eastside, forcing the Eagles to play outstanding defense.
Eastside goalkeeper Anna Shelton and defender Jordyn Jones and company stepped up to the task.
In the second half the Patriots’ strong attack continued but the Eagles finally got their offense in high gear. Shelton made a terrific save on a strong shot from Heritage’s Kaylah Nichols with 23:27 left to play.
Just over a minute later, Eastside sophomore Katie Oakley netted a shot from roughly 23 yards out off a ball provided by Aralyn Everett to knot the match at 1-1.
Shelton later made a diving save on another good shot off the foot of Nichols. The game remained tied until Eastside freshman Karissa Aldridge switched the ball from the left side of the field to a streaking Oakley on the right side, who fired a missile from 30 yards out. Oakley’s shot found the back of the net, providing the game-winning goal with 2:03 left to play.
After the match, Singleton was thrilled to walk away with a hard-fought victory over the Patriots.
“I’m so proud of the girls,” Singleton said. “We played a decent first half but played too reactive. The second half was more balanced in regards to possession. I thought our midfielders and forwards really upped their game in the second half.”
Singleton also praised his team’s defense for holding Heritage to only one goal on the night.
“Our defense played solid all night,” Singleton said. “Heritage kept attacking and we kept making big plays. Anna Shelton made some incredible saves in the second half that allowed us to collect ourselves and continue playing heads up defense.
“It’s a historic win for our program. We’ve never beaten Heritage. They’ve always been the model girls program in this area. They’ve got an excellent team and that makes the win that much more gratifying,”
Heritage (Boys) 2, Eastside 2
In the boys match that followed, Jordan Beam gave Eastside the early lead just over 10 minutes in. Just before halftime Creighton Goerner Made it 2-0 in favor of the Eagles at the half.
This time the comeback would be provided on the Patriots side as Heritage scored two second-half goals goals to knot the match 2-2.
The first score for the Patriots was the result of an own goal while the equalizer was provided by Avry Carrasquillo in the 77th minute.
The tie was the third in the series between the two teams. Oddly enough, last year the Eagles got their first ever win over Heritage by a 2-1 score, the same final tally as the Lady Eagles first ever win over the Lady Patriots earlier Tuesday evening.