Commentary

Eastside makes second chances count

Updated: April 29, 2009, 10:01 AM ET
By Sheldon Shealer | ESPNRISE.com

Eastside (Taylor, S.C.) is making the most of second chances.

Last week, Eastside rode Devon Dorn's first-half header to a 1-0 victory over J.L. Mann (Greenville, S.C.) in a battle between the state's No. 1 and No. 2 Class AAA programs, avenging an earlier loss to Mann.

Mann, which entered the contest 17-0-0, pinned the first loss on Eastside, now 16-2-0, in March by a 3-0 score.

Eastside's other loss was to Oklahoma power Norman North (Norman, Okla.) at the Palmetto Cup. However, Eastside recovered to win the tournament championship while Norman North was bumped in the semifinals.

On The Rise: Cleveland (Tenn.)

Cleveland might be the real sleeper in this year's FAB 50.

The defensively strong Raiders entered the final week of regular-season play at 14-0-2, having allowed only four goals this season. Cleveland's recent results allowed the team to jump from No. 43 in last week's FAB 50 to No. 17 this week.

Cleveland boasts two eye-catching results, a 1-1 draw with former state No. 1 Christian Brothers and a 2-0 victory over Dalton (Ga.). The Dalton result holds merit since that school is a common opponent between Cleveland, Tennessee's top-ranked team, Georgia's current No. 1 McIntosh (Peachtree City, Ga.) and Virgil Grissom (Huntsville, Ala.), a perennial state title challenger in Alabama. In those common-opponent meetings with Dalton, Cleveland holds the slight advantage over McIntosh since the Georgia team only won 2-1.

Cleveland has one regular-season match remaining, and it's no pushover. The Raiders face perennial state challenger and current Tennessee No. 3 Bearden (Knoxville, Tenn.) this week.

Top Newcomer: Wakefield (Arlington, Va.)

Wakefield certainly is never confused with the powerhouse programs of Northern Virginia; however, that might soon change.

Wakefield routed Thomas Edison (Alexandria, Va.) 5-1 last week in a battle of the last two undefeated teams in the Northern Region, the area surrounding Washington, D.C. The Warriors' victory allowed the team to debut this week at No. 28 in the FAB 50 while former FAB 50-ranked Edison falls from the rankings.

Around the Nation: Conway (Ark.) is the No. 1 seed as the Arkansas playoffs start this week. & Starr's Mill (Fayetteville, Ga.) went from FAB 50 Top 10 to unranked in a matter of two weeks, losing its last two matches following a 16-0-0 start. Starr's Mill fell to current No. 4 McIntosh in the regular-season finale and then lost to Lakeside-Dekalb (Atlanta, Ga.) in the first round of the Class AAAA playoffs.

Sheldon Shealer covers youth soccer for ESPNRISE.com. He can be reached at Sheldon.Shealer@espn.com.