Eastside ends season with a stinging loss to Citrus
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 11:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 24, 2013 at 12:12 a.m.
For the second time Wednesday night, Sophia Smith waited in goal as a nearly 40-yard volley fluttered through the air and began its precipitous descent to the back of Eastside's net.
Like the first shot from Inverness Citrus junior Payton Wells, the high-arching ball in the 74th minute came as a surprise to Smith — the Rams' freshman goalkeeper — and both coaches on sidelines.
“The last time this happened I was playing (youth soccer in Gainesville),” Smith said. “That is unbelievable. You have to jump, and your fingertips are so cold in this weather. … It just slips right by.”
The Hurricanes' final goal, which was also the second of the night for Wells, ensured Eastside's postseason would come to close with 3-0 loss to Citrus in the Class 3A, Region 2 quarterfinal at Citizen's Field.
Wells, a midfielder, boomed another lobbing right-footer from 35 yards out in the 30th minute for the Hurricanes' first goal.
“Something like that, you just don't expect them to kick the ball 50 feet into the air and then it lands in the goal when you're 40 to 45 yards away,” first-year Rams coach Jonathan Munoz said. “The goals that they scored were goals that were just fortunate.”
While Citrus outshot Eastside 19-6 and forced Smith to make a game-high 11 saves, Hurricanes coach Ian Feldt was also pleasantly stunned by the success of his team's long ball.
The runner-up in District 6-3A, Citrus (12-8-1) was blanked, 3-0, last Friday night against a stout Nature Coast team before finding its scoring touch against the Rams' defense. Eastside (11-6-2), on the other hand, entered the game off a 3-2 double-overtime win against Palatka and its fourth district title in the last five years.
“Could you believe that we practice 40-yard shots? No,” Feldt said. “They were fortunate. Those don't always go in, so when they do, ugly goals count the same and we'll take them.”
Both teams came into Wednesday worried with the condition of their respective leading scorers. Citrus midfielder Deycasha Miller was sick, according to Feldt, and Eastside's Sarah Collings, scorer of a hat trick in the District 5-3A final, played with a soft cast for a fractured left arm.
Unlike the young Rams team, which had just one senior its roster, the Hurricanes found other playmakers to share the scoring load in Wells and midfielder Erin Cagwin, who scored with 17 minutes left in the first half off a Miller corner kick.
While Eastside's season comes to a close without its first playoff win since 2002, Citrus will travel to face either Nature Coast or Palatka on Saturday at 7 p.m.
“I give them all the credit for stepping up and not giving up until the very last second,” Munoz said. “Just because (Citrus) had two big midfielders, that meant nothing. It was a fair field, a fair game and we just didn't stop the girls.”
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