Eastside girls soccer advanced to the 4-A upper state championship with a 3-1 win over Catawba Ridge on Saturday, May 4, 2024.Maryn Holmes scored Eastside's game-winning goal in the 50th minute.Kennedy Craig (No. 11) battles for the ball early against Catawba Ridge.Eastside girls soccer huddles after beating Catawba Ridge 3-1 in the 4-A upper state semifinal. The Lady Eagles will face Riverside in the 4-A upper state championship on Tuesday, May 7 at home.

‘The Next Five Minutes’: Eastside overcomes rain, early goal to beat Catawba Ridge

Trey Stewart's picture
Trey Stewart

Eastside’s girls' soccer team doesn’t give up many goals.

In fact, through 22 games played this season, the Lady Eagles have been scored on just eight times. Before Saturday’s 4-A upper state semifinal against Catawba Ridge, Eastside went seven games without allowing a goal.

The Lady Copperheads, however, found the back of the net just four minutes into the match.

Eastside found itself in a rare spot — behind early.

They had to regroup.

“The girls have something they do every time we give up a goal,” said Eastside head coach David Craig. “They get together in a huddle, they talk about it, and they take advantage of the next five minutes.

“That’s our saying. If we give up a goal, we take advantage of the next five minutes.”

The Lady Eagles got together shoulder-to-shoulder, broke from the huddle, and went right to work. Just three minutes later, Kennedy Craig evened the score with an “olimpico” goal — firing home straight from a corner kick.

Eastside’s mantra held strong.

“That’s what we’ve said for the last eight years here at Eastside. The best time to get a goal is the ‘next five minutes’ after you give one up,” said Craig. “It’s all about how you respond.”

After Kennedy Craig’s immediate response, the Lady Eagles controlled the rest of the game. As the rain began to pour heavy over Taylors, Eastside picked up the pace and dominated possession, creating chance after chance on goal.

They finally broke through in the second half.

In the 50th minute, senior forward Payton Nutzman played a free kick in from the right wing. The ball dropped in the box and bounced around for a few seconds before finally finding the right foot of junior midfielder Maryn Holmes.

Holmes took advance of the fortunate bounce. She fired into the top netting to give Eastside the 2-1 lead.

“The one thing that was going through my head the entire time was “This is my moment’” said Holmes. “I was right in front of the goal. I had to score.

“It was so much shock and excitement when the ball went in. But I knew we had to stay focused. We still had 30 minutes left to finish the game.”

The Lady Eagles kept their foot on the gas. Fifteen minutes later, Nutzman took a shove in the penalty box to draw a penalty kick for Eastside. She converted the kick herself to put the game away at 3-1.

When the final whistle blew, Eastside rushed the field in celebration. Drenched in rain, the defending state champions found a way back to the 4-A upper state title game.

The Lady Eagles already knew who their opponent would be: Riverside.

Most of Riverside’s players were in the stands to watch Eastside play. The Lady Warriors clinched an upper state spot just 30 minutes before Eastside’s game kicked off, knocking off Indian Land 4-1.

“It’s going to be huge,” said Craig. “The atmosphere is going to be amazing. We know both schools will have a lot of fans going at it on both sides. That’s what makes the rivalry so great.”

Eastside swept the season series with Riverside, winning 3-0 and 2-0. They’ll face off for the upper state crown at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7. Eastside will host.

“We’re just going to do what we do best,” said Craig. “Play together, play for each other, and let the chips fall where they may.”


Catawba Ridge    1    0    1

Eastside        1    2    3


7’ | EASTSIDE Goal - Kennedy Craig
50’ | EASTSIDE Goal - Maryn Holmes
66’ | EASTSIDE Goal - Payton Nutzman (PK)

trey@greercitizen.com | 877-2076


Eastside girls soccer responded after giving up an early goal to earn a hard-fought, rain-drenched 3-1 win over Catawba Ridge in the 4-A upper state semifinal.

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