Eastside girls soccer wins district
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:47 p.m.
BELLEVIEW — After being forced to forfeit all of last season, Sarah Collings and her Eastside teammates entered this year looking for a fresh start.
Though their streak of three straight district championships was officially snapped due to using an academically ineligible player, the Rams did not to let their frustrations linger for long with a new coach in tow and 10 seniors departed from the squad.
On Friday night, Eastside's young team began what it hopes is a new title run with a 3-2 double overtime win against Palatka in the District 5-3A championship game.
“Nothing was expected of us because we forfeited all those games,” Collings said. “It kind of pushed us more than we might have been pushed.”
Collings, a junior striker, provided a dramatic ending to the 93-minute affair with a weaving, 35-yard possession through the Panthers' defense that culminated with a last-second flick into the net past Palatka goalie Alyssa Curtis.
The goal was Collings' 29th of the season and third of the night, following two first-half scores that gave Eastside a 2-1 lead at the break.
“Sarah's one of those players that has become a leader and she injects this team with energy,” first-year Rams coach Jonathan Munoz said. “She's a playmaker and that last goal shows it.”
While the hat-trick performance lifted the Rams to a fourth district championship in five years, Palatka did all it could in the second half to shadow Collings, who was nursing an injured left wrist, and find a regulation winner.
“With my injury, I wasn't quite all the way focused,” said Collings, a bag of ice draped on her arm. “We had the lead, and we might have backed down a little bit.”
Eastside surrendered an equalizing goal with 15 minutes left when Panthers senior forward Brooke Lloyd drilled a 15-yarder into the top left corner of the net.
On a team featuring just one senior, however, Eastside freshman goalie Sophia Smith (seven saves) and the defense were able to bide enough time for Collings to find the game-winner.
Eastside (11-5-2) will host Eustis, which lost in the District 3A-6 title match 3-0 to Nature Coast, in the state regional quarterfinals Wednesday at 7 p.m. Palatka (17-6-4) will visit Nature Coast.
“I told them from the very beginning that this is not about the fifth (district) ring, it's about the first ring,” Munoz said. “It's about making a statement about what's going to happen.”
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