Eastside boys soccer wins district

Eastside celebrates after defeating Forest High School 3-1 in the 5A district 4 championship soccer game Friday night at Jervey Gantt Park in Ocala.

Doug Engle/Star-Banner
Published: Friday, January 30, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 12:11 a.m.

OCALA — Forest and Eastside each spent half of Friday’s District 4-5A boys soccer championship game at Jervey Gantt Park putting almost constant pressure on the opposing defense.

But it was Eastside that withstood that pressure better early, and it was also Eastside who delivered that pressure more decisively late.

The result was a 3-1 win by the Rams (18-9) that clinched a district title and a home playoff game against 3-5A runner-up Bartram Trail on Thursday. Forest will hit the road to face Fleming Island the same night.

The Wildcats (13-6-3) were on the attack for almost the entire first half Friday, but for the second straight tournament game, the Rams’ defense bent but didn’t break.

And once again, Eastside coach Steve Holloway wasn’t surprised to see his team — which has won 12 of its last 13 games — react so coolly under fire in the early going.

“Our guys were clicking, they were passing, they were doing wonderfully,” he said. “Forest was playing hard, but the momentum was about 80 percent ours for most of the game.

“When our guys started getting pressured, they pressured back and they continued to keep the pressure on.”

That’s exactly what happened after the intermission, when suddenly Forest found itself backpedaling against some furious and fleet-footed counter-attacks from the Rams’ top two scoring threats — Olawale Olaoye and Jovaughn Howard.

“We got together, we got focused,” Olaoye said. “Once we did that, we started controlling the ball more and that’s when we were able to capitalize.”

Their first strike proved to be the game-breaker, and it was the fourth time in two games that Howard’s blazing speed led directly to a goal. In a scoreless tie, the senior striker darted through the middle in the 65th minute and drew a whistle for a hard tackle. His ensuing direct kick was batted away by Forest keeper Jeremiah Oram, but Olaoye pounced on the rebound and drove it into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

If Forest’s chances appeared thin at that point, they were virtually eliminated just three minutes later when Olaoye chipped a pinpoint lead to Howard past the defense, and Howard ripped a hard liner just over Oram’s fingertips for a 2-0 advantage.

Tyler Davis got Forest on the board with seven minutes to go when he deflected Stephen Sanchez’ long-range shot into the goal, but Olaoye iced it in the waning moments with a top-shelf bullet into the left corner.

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