UPDATE: East Jackson defeated Elbert County 3-2 on Tuesday.
The East Jackson Comprehensive High School boys’ soccer team dropped two games last week.
On Friday, the Eagles traveled to Athens Academy for a non-region matchup with the Spartans.
Athens Academy scored two early goals in the first half – one from a breakaway, and the other from a penalty kick.
The Eagles were able to sneak onto the board just before halftime, when Ferry Vilchez sent an accurate cross pass to the far post and Jacob Hammonds forced it in for the score. Aldo Martinez scored a second Eagle goal just minutes after halftime, bringing the score back to a tie. Late in the second half, Edgar Aguirre scored a third East Jackson goal on a scramble; however, it was disallowed due to an offside penalty. Athens Academy scored one more goal on a corner kick late in the half, to put away the visiting Eagles 3-2.
“Athens Academy had been putting in some dangerous challenges from the beginning and the referees had begun to call those,” said Eagle coach Chris Cooley. “But with several of our players sitting out injured, the home team managed to sneak a third goal. Despite good pressure and lots of chances for our guys, we were unable to score another goal to bring the score back even.”
The previous Tuesday (Feb. 25), East Jackson fell 4-1 at Winder-Barrow High School.
The Eagles came out flat on defense and fell behind the Bulldogs 2-0 early in the first half.
“WBHS was certainly a step up from the first two teams we played this season – with skill, speed and aggression in their attack,” said Cooley.
East Jackson was down 3-0 at halftime before the Eagle coaches rallied the team in the locker room.
“Our boys were playing hard but not smart, allowing WBHS room to maneuver in the middle of the field,” said Cooley. “Coach (Rich) Friedman told our guys to pressure in defense, pass quickly, clear to the wings and stretch out the relatively weak Winder-Barrow defense. This paid off in the second half in which we dominated as the Bulldogs ran out of steam.”
The Eagles caught several unlucky breaks in the second half, including hitting the bar on attempted goals and scoring on their own goal. Aldo Martinez scored the Eagles’ lone goal of the contest in the waning minutes of regulation.
“While 4-1 was the final score, it doesn’t really tell the story,” said Cooley. “This game was great practice for our guys and we approached it that way. We learned some valuable lessons, particularly about pushing forward in defense to deny our opponents the time to build their attack. This was a great game to play in preparation for region play next week.”
The Eagles will travel to Hart County to face the Bulldogs on Friday.
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