Eastside girls soccer aims to continue momentum


Published: Wednesday, January 28, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2009 at 12:00 a.m.

Eastside assistant girls soccer coach Cherie Clark said that the Rams have been a fun group to watch grow from the first few games of the season.

The highlight of the season came last week in Ocala, when the Rams won three straight contests, including an overtime-win over city rival Gainesville in the semifinals and a

double-overtime victory over host Forest en-route to capturing the District 4-5A title. It was the first time since 2002 that Eastside (20-5-2) took home a district championship.

Adding to the excitement of the Rams' district title and hosting tonight's Region 1-5A quarterfinal with Orange Park Fleming Island (16-5-3) at Citizens Field is that Clark will soon have an opportunity to watch someone else grow up.

Clark, who is in her third year as an assistant at Eastside working alongside head coach Sarah Goldberg, is eight and a half months pregnant with her first child, a boy. Her due date is Feb. 15, which is also her birthday. The team has had fun with Clark's pregnancy, and while an early birth has been joked about, tonight or anytime during a match, might not be great timing.

"The biggest concern is Thursday at our game, what if she starts having contractions?" said freshman forward Sarah Landauer, who scored four of her team-leading 30

goals during the district tournament. "We joke about that a lot, we'd probably keep playing but it would be a huge distraction."

However, despite losing seven seniors from last year's 18-7-3 team, the Rams have been focused in accomplishing their goal of claiming a district crown.

"For us in districts, we had a lot of expectations on us last year with the senior class we had and I think this year we had hardly any expectations on us," Clark said. "So to see them play the way that they did and to come out with a district championship, that was just really the exciting part."

The Rams players threw Clark a baby shower this past weekend, which included diapers, gift cards, baby books and reliving the glory of last week by watching the film of wins over GHS and Forest.

"They're just enjoying the fun of it (me being pregnant) they enjoy seeing me change. They thought I looked huge four months ago," Clark said. "This is a great group of kids because they understand like today (Tuesday) being eight and a half months pregnant and trying to run a practice they're helping me set up things, they're putting the equipment in. I don't have to ask them, they've been really great about

understanding that we're still here to get work done but they're going to help me out at the same time."

The Rams, who are also led by Summer Woods' nine assists and goal keeper Grace Chrzanowski's 14 shutouts, with an average of 6.7 saves per game, look to keep their momentum going against Fleming Island. The Rams, making their 14th playoff appearance in the last 16 seasons, and Golden Eagles also met in the first round of the 2006 regional playoffs. The Golden Eagles won that meeting, 2-1, and reached the Class 5A state semifinals that season.

Eastside defender and team captain Grace Quintana, one of just four seniors on the squad, remembers that match.

"I was very excited to hear that we were playing them, definitely," Quintana said. "I would like to erase that memory and replace it with a better one."

Either way it has been a memorable season for the Rams.

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