COVINGTON -- Eastside soccer's first-ever Elite Eight match was a long time coming but Tuesday night, in front of a packed house inside Homer Sharp Stadium, the day had arrived.
Squaring off against No. 5 Blessed Trinity, it took the Titans only 38 seconds to net a goal against the Eagles. A stout Titans offense added four more goals on the night - two more in the first half and two in the second half - to end the Eagles' season with a 5-1 loss.
Eastside sophomore goalkeeper Anna Shelton made three saves in the next eight minutes following the Titans' opening score.
At the 29:20 mark, the Eagles' Kate Oakley and Malaya Yamasaki combined to make a huge defensive play to stop a Titan scoring opportunity at point-blank range. Shelton made three more saves over the next seven minutes on the game clock.
Blessed Trinity stretched their lead to 2-0 with 19:45 remaining in the first half.
With 14:26 on the clock a Titan shot hit the cross bar and rebounded back on to the pitch where Shelton made a save on the followup shot. Soon after, Blessed Trinity extended its lead to 3-0 with 13:57 to play in the half.
Shelton made two more saves in rapid succession before senior McKenna Walker made a big defensive play when she ran down a Titan and blocked a shot.
The Eagles got their first true shot on goal with 5:44 left to play and another with 3:05 left off an Eastside free kick.
Shelton finished the 1st half with a total of 12 quality saves. Eastside trailed 3-0 at the break.
The Lady Eagles play in the second half was much improved. Eastside forced a save by the Titans at the 37:11 mark, but it
was Blessed Trinity who scored first when they netted a goal with 30:56 on the clock.
Eastside made four saves in the next 4-plus minutes before the Lady Eagles created a beautiful goal of their own.
Shelton sent a long goal kick to midfield where Aralyn Everett settled the ball before sending a long, flighted ball that Mya Cummings ran down. Cummings then crossed from just outside the right side of the 18-yard box across the goal mouth to the far side of the Lady Titans goal where Oakley fired it in with 25:15 left to play.
The goal was freshman Oakley's 21st of the season.
Shelton made a save one minute later to keep the deficit at 4-1. Blessed Trinity scored the final goal of the night with 7:51 left to play. Shelton made a total of 12 additional saves in the second stanza for a total of 24 in the match.
The 5-1 loss ended the most successful season an Eagle boys or girls soccer team has ever put together.
Coach Singleton was reflective after the match
"Proud of the girls," Singleton said. "What a season. We just didn't have the matchup going our way today. Blessed Trinity is a great team. Hats off to them. These seniors, Malaya Yamasaki, Mckenna Walker and Jacey Stringfield have been wonderful to coach. We're going to truly miss them. I look forward to our program continuing to grow through this experience. It's been a fun year. I am blessed."
Blessed Trinity will meet No.1 St. Pius, who were 10-0 winners over Northside Columbus, next Tuesday May 14 in the AAAA Final Four.
The No. 9 Eastside Lady Eagles (15-4-1) from Region 4-AAAA entered the match having outscored their opponents 103-18 and had posted 10 clean sheets. They had lost to No. 6 North Oconee (16-3-1), No. 7 Woodward Academy and to Class AAAAAA No. 6 Heritage (17-3-1).
Coach Singleton took over the reins of the Eastside Lady Eagles in 2010. He has taken five of his teams to state in his 10 years. In 2012 and 2018, they reached the Sweet 16 and this years' team advanced to the Elite 8 for the first time in program history.
Blessed Trinity (14-3-1) had lost only three games this season, to Flowery Branch (16-2-2), AAAA No. 3 Columbus (20-1-0) and to Marist. They had outscored their opponents 73-11 and had recorded 11 shutouts. The Lady Titans won the State Championship in 2011 and finished as State runners-up in 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.