TAYLORS – Eastside’s girls soccer team had another one of those matches Thursday night. The Eagles defeated a determined but overmatched Greer team 9-0 at John Carlisle Stadium.
Eastside, No. 1 in Class AAA, is 14-1, with 13 of the victories having been shutouts.
Since their only loss, a 5-0 defeat Feb. 28 against Wando, the No. 3-ranked team in Class AAAA, the Eagles have won nine of their 12 matches by at least four goals.
“We’ve had a few challenging games, but overall we haven’t been challenged too much,” said Betsy Evatt, Eastside’s senior all-state defender. “I think that was one of our problems last year was overcoming the adversity of not having challenges like that. I think that’s kind of where we fell apart last year, when we couldn’t score goals super early like we had been used to all season.”
After finishing as state runner-up in back-to-back seasons, Eastside lost in the Upper State final last year, falling 3-2 against Chapin.
“We have a strong senior core that’s been through a lot,” said Kyle Hughes, the Eagles’ first-year coach.
Hughes took over for Andy Robinson, who left after 12 seasons to become coach at North Greenville University. Robinson’s daughter, Asheton, is another of the Eagles’ senior leaders.
“Betsy Evatt, Asheton Robinson, Robin Martin, those seniors push my girls and try to showcase what I want to showcase on the field. They know what to expect,” Hughes said.
“It takes a lot off my shoulders, especially in practice. My senior core, they runs things for me, and they make sure the girls are rallied up pretty strong before each and every game and also in practicce.”
Asheton Robinson scored three goals Thursday night against Greer, and junior Hazel Giraldo scored two. Juniors Hawley Agee and Lauren Thomas and sophomores Mikayla Rajcan and Bridget Wilson each scored once.
The goal scorers epitomized the balance in contributions the Eagles receive on a regular basis.
“Obviously it’s state championship or bust for us,” Hughes said. “A lot of coaches don’t want to have that mentality, but when you have a group of seniors, and when you have talented junior and sophomore classes, you have to set the bar high.”
But again, they have to be ready for that next level in competition, even if it’s a matter of gearing up for only a few games.
“You get into the playoffs, and they’re just not like this,” said Evatt. “They’re 1-0 games or they go down to PKs or whatever else. It gets frustrating when you’re used to scoring in the first five minutes of the game, and you have to wait till the last five minutes of the game to score. We’ve got to learn to be patient and keep working and not get frustrated when things aren’t going our way.”
“It’s kind of a straight line and all of a sudden a hill. You’ve just got to keep chugging along until you reach that hill and then have the power to go up it. We’re hoping we have that power this year.”