By Anthony Rhoads
The Eagle's Landing Lady Golden Eagles saw their season end Tuesday night in a 1-0 loss to Starr's Mill in the second round of the Class AAAAA state soccer tournament.
If it hadn't been for the opening minute, Eagle's Landing would have played Starr's Mill, the No. 4-ranked team in the state, to a draw.
Just 39 seconds into the contest, Starr's Mill senior Lindsay Anderson scored to give the Lady Panthers a 1-0 advantage.
That would be all the scoring Starr's Mill would need to hang on for the victory.
"They are a great team," Eagle's Landing head coach Dorsey Rice said. "You don't get to be that way without being one of the best teams in the state."
Eagle's Landing's offense struggled all night and managed just two shots in the first half and three in the second half.
The Lady Golden Eagles' defense held Starr's Mill to five shots in the first half. Starr's Mill got off 10 shots in the second half but failed to score.
Eagle's Landing goalkeeper Sara Samchok recorded five saves while defender Leigh Jakes made several key plays to keep Starr's Mill off balance.
"Our defense all-around play a great game and individually, Leigh Jakes did an incredible job," Rice said. "I thought it was a great effort. It was probably the best game they have played all year long."
Eagle's Landing finishes the season at 12-7-1.
"I'm really proud of the season we had," Rice said. "We improved over last season and look forward to next season."
In the regular season, Eagle's Landing captured the Area 2-AAAAA championship with an undefeated league record.
The Lady Golden Eagles then defeated Effingham County 6-1 in the opening round of the state playoffs.
"I'm disappointed we didn't get the win but am proud of the way they played tonight and the way they played all year long," Rice said. "I think we had a great season."
The future of the program should be bright as this year's team included only four seniors (Denisse Iacobucci, Courtney Harris, Shawna Grimes and Tamara Means).
The team's leading scorer, Hayley Ferrell, is just a sophomore. The Lady Golden Eagles should also be solid on defense next year as Jakes and Samchok are both freshmen.