The East Jackson boys’ soccer team advanced to 4-2 in region play after defeating Hart County 3-1 at home on Friday.
The win on Senior Night marked the Eagles’ third home victory and moved them up to second place in the region 8-AAA standings behind North Oconee High School.
“Our boys controlled much of the play from the starting whistle,” said coach Chris Cooley. “There were chances at both ends, but we always looked the dominant team.”
After a scoreless first half, Eagle coach Rich Friedman advised the East Jackson players to attack the corners of the field.
Five minutes into, the second half, the Eagles stretched Hart County defenders, which allowed space for Ferry Vilchez to squeeze through and finish a goal, putting East Jackson up with a 1-0 lead. A minute later, Vilchez brought the ball back down the left touchline and sent a long cross into the box, which Jonathan Zarco volleyed past the Hart County goalkeeper.
“Our players did a good job in the second half of drawing out the Hart defensive line,” added Cooley. “Our boys kept the pressure on Hart and held possession in the center.”
A Hart striker eventually squeeze a goal in to cut the lead to one, but with less than five minutes remaining, pressure in the Hart box resulted in an East Jackson penalty kick, which Aldo Martinez converted to seal the 3-1 Eagle victory.
Cooley noted that he was particularly impressed with the defensive performance of Taylor Murphy. He also praised Luis Ponce and Blake Harwood for their performances on the field.
With only one region game remaining, the Eagles are positioned for a high seed in the region tournament. But the Eagles will have to get past rival Jackson County to seal the second seed.
After a brief intermission for spring break, the Eagles will return to play on Monday, April 8, when they host Banks County High School in a game that was postponed earlier in the season.