Last week, the East Jackson boys’ soccer team closed out its 2013 region schedule with a 2-1 win over rival Jackson County, sealing the region 8-AAA third seed. Now, the Eagles will try to build on that momentum heading into the first round of the state playoffs.
Next week, the Eagles will most likely travel to either Cartersville or North Murray (depending on results this week).
While Eagle coach Chris Cooley doesn’t know exactly what team East Jackson will face, he said that he is banking on some broad assumptions about the teams from region 5-AAA.
“Region five is difficult to predict because they only play against each other, so there is no measure to compare them against,” said Cooley. “We are likely to face a predominantly Hispanic team, and as such they will probably play a quick possession game.”
The playoff picture has yet to play out; but regardless, Cooley believes his Eagle squad has already achieved a successful season.
“To sum up our regular season, the aim in creating our schedule had been to practice against strong teams and to get good experience for region and state – rather than overall win-loss. We have achieved that.”
The Eagles ended the season with a 5-2 region record and an 8-8 overall mark. With the exceptions of Athens Academy, the Eagles only fell to AAAAA teams or teams that were state ranked.
Last Tuesday, East Jackson traveled to Jackson County to face a Panther team hungry for a win.
Ten minutes into the game, a JCCHS player collided head on with EJCHS defender Alexis Gonzalez, knocking him unconscious. Fortunately, his CT scan showed no signs of concussion, but he will be forced to sit out for approximately two weeks.
After the intermission for injury, the Eagles came out putting pressure on the Panthers’ goal. Jonathan Zarco scored the first Eagle goal and Austin Lumpkin converted a penalty kick earned by Luis Ponce to put the Eagles ahead by two. Jackson County was able to score one goal, but the Eagle defense held firm, sealing the victory.
On Monday, East Jackson closed out its regular season with a 6-0 loss to Athens Academy.
“With three starting players out injured, and two more switching on and off the field for the same reason, Athens Academy was a training game primarily,” said Cooley. “It was our last game of regular season and a chance to relax. Our boys did not play their best, and consequently did not enjoy it as much as they could have.”
Cooley plans on giving his banged-up team some much-needed rest before heading into the playoffs next week.
“We are three months and 18 games into a demanding season, so our boys will take the next few days easy, and ramp things up again next week,” he said.