IRMO — The tears streamed down Jack Redmond’s face.
He had learned what losing this kind of game was like. The previous two state championship games he had played in ended in Eastside boys soccer defeats.
Then on Friday it all changed.
The senior’s foot found the ball with 35 minutes left in the second half of the Class AAAA championship against North Augusta. Redmond slid a rebounding shot back into the goal to put Eastside up 1-0. It was the only goal of the game.
Finally the Eagles did it, winning a state title.
“I’m speechless,” Redmond said. “This is my third state championship (game), and for (the win) to come in the last one, my senior year, and score the winning goal … It’s just amazing man. I don’t know what to say.”
It was Eastside's first state championship since 2014. The Eagles had lost the last four state title games played since 2017.
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“Finally,” Redmond said. “It’s what I’ve been dreaming about my whole high school career.”
The title is the program’s seventh in boys soccer. When the Eagles last won the title, they toppled Brookland-Cayce for the AAA championship.
“It’s overwhelming,” said first-year Eastside coach Stephen Wood. “The fact that so many of my JV boys got to come up to varsity and we did it? I love it.”
Down one man in second-half, Eastside hangs on
Eastside and North Augusta went back and forth for most of the first half – both had opportunities but weren’t able to stick it in the back of the net. After Redmond’s goal, everything changed.
An Eastside player was handed a second yellow card of the match and the Eagles were down a player for the majority of the second half – facing an 11 vs. 10 disadvantage.
“I have no idea right now,” Wood said when asked how his team was able to hang on. “We put in some defensive plays, we changed our formation to make it defensive and we just kind of kept the back end of the field the same.”
Kaleb Craig with a masterclass in net
Eastside goalkeeper Kaleb Craig said he felt like last year’s loss in the state championship to James Island was on him. So he went to work in the offseason.
“Last year I was really heartbroken with that James Island lost,” Craig said. “I didn’t want to have that feeling again.”
The senior had multiple saves to help keep Eastside ahead. Maybe the most flashy came in the final 1:45 when he caught a sailing shot at its apex, nearly falling into the net.
“I’m a champion,” Craig said. “It feels great.”
Joe Dandron covers high school sports for The Greenville News. You can contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @JoeMDandron.
This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Eastside boys soccer beats North Augusta, wins AAAA state title