Eastside VS Suwannee
Eastside #3 Nio Suzuki passes the ball to #14 Jonas Traktuev, Suwannee #4 Adrian Segura and #5 Andrew Ibarra defending. Picture by Cherie Chick.

Eastside Rams Clinch a Spot at the Regional Semifinals in 3-2 Victory Against the Suwannee Bulldogs

After winning the 4A District 3 Tournament last Thursday night, the Eastside Rams boys soccer team came into the regional tournament as the No. 2 seed. In their first regional matchup, Eastside faced the No. 7 seed, the Suwannee Bulldogs, at Citizen’s Field on Wednesday evening. The Rams managed to defeat the Bulldogs 3-2 and advanced to the regional semifinals.

The Rams Dominate From the Start  

From kickoff, the Rams were focused, structured and ready to attack. The Rams attacked quickly at the right side toward the goal line, then passed into the penalty area and found senior Nico Hincapie in the middle. Fifteen seconds into the match, Hincapie scored the first goal of the game. The Rams had high energy and continued to run similar strategic attacks on the right side. The Rams controlled possession of the ball and played mostly in their half of the field. At 7:35, Rams senior Nio Suzuki scored the second goal of the game with an assist from senior Kazu Someya. The Rams’ energy was high, leading 2-0 just eight minutes into the game.

The Bulldogs were having trouble finding their offensive rhythm to catch up with the Rams. The Bulldogs were frustrated and started to commit several hard fouls on the Rams’ co-captain, Suzuki, 15 minutes into the game. Consequentially, Suzuki took a couple hard falls to the ground. At 16:53, a foul by the Bulldogs had led to a free-kick for the Rams. Senior Matthew Bishop-Gylys scored the third goal for the Rams off the free-kick by Kazu Someya, improving the lead to 3-0. Even so, the Rams continued to attack constantly with co-captain Sawyer Cohen leading the Rams’ effort in the midfield to formulate attacks.

At halftime, Rams Head Coach Sawyer commented on the team’s performance in the first half and the importance of “no jogging” for his players during the game.

The Bulldogs Fight Back

The intensity levels of both teams were high in this regional matchup. The aggressive plays in the first half have left the Rams’ star players slightly injured. Suzuki and Hincapie were not able to start the second half with leg and foot injuries. With Eastside’s strongest offensive lineup out of the game, the Bulldogs took advantage and attacked frequently from the start of the second half. At 52:57, the Bulldogs’ first attempt was close but, unfortunately, it hit the top of the goal post. After that, the Bulldogs managed to break through the Rams’ defense several times and had good opportunities to score. The Rams not only were unable to find momentum offensively but also struggled to stop the Bulldogs defensively.

At water break, coach Swayer repeatedly asked the Eastside defensive lineup to “get organized and play smart.” However, the Bulldogs’ repeated attacks eventually led to their first goal at 64:47 off a corner kick. Six minutes later, Bulldogs senior C.J. Joyner scored the second goal, cutting the Rams’ lead to 3-2. With less than 10 minutes left in the game, both Suzuki and Hincapie were substituted back in for the Rams to create attacks and take control of the game. It was a nerve-wracking 10 minutes for both teams, fighting hard for a spot at the regional semifinals. Ultimately, the Eastside Rams managed to take the victory home with a 3-2 final score against Suwannee.

After the game, Hincapie commented on his performance, the team’s performance and preparation for the next game.

What’s Next For the Rams

Last season, the Rams were eliminated in the regional semifinals. The Rams look to surpass last season’s record and hope to advance to the regional finals. The regional semifinals will take place on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Bishop Kenny Crusaders at Citizen’s Field. Bishop Kenny was the top seed in the district tournament, but the Rams managed to defeat the team at 1-0 in the district finals matchup last Thursday. This will be the second matchup between the two schools this season and will determine their chances to compete at the regional championship.

About Cherie Chick

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