By Phil Albert
How sweet it is!
Eagle's Landing claimed its first area 2-AAAAA girls soccer title Friday night in Jonesboro with a dramatic 2-1 victory in rainy conditions.
Meanwhile, Jonesboro scored a split on the evening with a 2-1 boys victory over the visiting Golden Eagles, further influencing its bid for a post-season berth.
Eagle's Landing 2, Jonesboro 1 (Girls): Hayley Ferrell scored two goals, including the game-winning tally with just 2:21 remaining, as the lady Golden Eagles improved to 9-4 overall, 8-0 in area competition and securing the area title.
Ferrell has 19 goals on the season and credited the team play as key to the win.
"I had some beautiful balls (passes) tonight," she said, noting the assists from Melissa Anderson and Lauren Harris.
After a scoreless first half which saw the defenses dominate, Ferrell opened the scoring with 29:40 remaining on an assist from Harris.
The Jonesboro tandem of Amanda Traber and Michelle Lueke connected to tie the game with 13:44 remaining. Traber's header on a nice set-up pass from Lueke tied the game.
Ferrell then ended the scoring after a pass from Anderson.
"I'm really ecstatic," Ferrell added. "This team has played hard together all year. We won the area. Now, we've got to prepare for the playoffs."
The lady Golden Eagle defense was also tough, led by the speedy Leigh Jakes, who spoiled many Jonesboro opportunities.
"I knew what I had to do," Jakes said. "We all played great. We played our best tonight."
The lady Golden Eagles were held to just four shots in the second half. The defense stopped eight Jonesboro shots, several coming from Lueke or Traber.
"Both (Lueke and Traber) are very skilled," Jonesboro coach David Priser said as the lady Cardinals fell to 9-4-1 overall, 6-2 in area competition. "They know how to play and they've been our leaders out there."
For coach Dorsey Rice, the win was sweet. In his second season as head coach, Rice noted last year's team had eight starting freshmen.
"These girls have learned quickly how to play together," he said.
Jonesboro 2, Eagle's Landing 1 (Boys): Despite being outshot 13-1 in the second half, Jonesboro made the most of its single effort.
Brad Martin's 17th goal of the season gave Jonesboro a 2-1 victory and virtually secured a playoff berth while eliminating Eagle's Landing's playoff chances.
Playing a player down, the Cardinals tightened up on defense and foiled Eagle's Landing's scoring chances.
Jonesboro's Patrick Saxby was red carded with just over 24 minutes remaining in the game.
Martin's goal with 22:37 remaining on a breakaway was the difference.
"Everything went my way," Martin said after the win. "I was in the right spot and I muscled my way through the defense. I was in great position."
The win improved Jonesboro's area mark to 6-2, but Martin added that the pressure will be to win the remaining area games.
Cardinal coach Andy Boyle added that the defense played huge, especially being one player down.
Eagle's Landing opened the scoring in the first half as Chris Hawkins notched his eighth goal of the season with 25:37 remaining in the half.
Ryan Chaffee would tie the game with 10:13 remaining in the half, booming the ball into an open net after taking a loose ball from a scramble.
Eagle's Landing outshot Jonesboro 24-11, 13-1 in the second half. The Golden Eagles dropped to 4-7-1 overall, 3-4 in area play.
"It's going to be tough to make it to state," coach Frank Macon said after the loss. "We outshot them, but give them credit. I think it was our best defensive game of the year."