Grangers hold on for state win

Last updated: May 07. 2014 2:12AM - 557 Views
By Kevin Eckleberry

LaGrange's Michael Brackett advances the ball during Tuesday's state-playoff game against Stone Mountain. Brackett scored a first-half goal in the 3-2 victory.Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
LaGrange's Michael Brackett advances the ball during Tuesday's state-playoff game against Stone Mountain. Brackett scored a first-half goal in the 3-2 victory.Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
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Everything was going wrong.

The LaGrange Grangers soared to a 2-0 lead in the first half of Tuesday’s state-playoff soccer match against Stone Mountain, but five minutes into the second half, that lead was gone.

Stone Mountain scored with less than 10 seconds left in the first half to get within a goal, and it tied things up with a goal early in the second half.

“They scored, and we were in a little shambles, I’ll be honest,” LaGrange coach Keita Placide said.

The Grangers had come too far, though, and they’d accomplished too much to let things slip away on their home field with a trip to the Class AAAA quarterfinals on the line.

After giving up the tying goal, the Grangers regained their footing, and they went on the attack and had numerous good looks at the goal.

Finally, with 7:08 showing on the clock, a freshman came through with the biggest goal of the season.

From about 20 yards out, Marat Rosencrants lifted the ball over the Stone Mountain goal keeper’s head to give the Grangers the 3-2 lead.

Stone Mountain didn’t come close to scoring the tying goal, and LaGrange walked away with a 3-2 victory to keep its championship hopes alive.

LaGrange will be back home on Friday against Spalding County for a third-round game, with the winner advancing to the final four.

“It’s the most amazing feeling ever,” said Michael Brackett, who scored one of LaGrange’s three goals. “It just feels awesome.”

It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t figure to be against a strong Stone Mountain team.

The teams played during the regular season, with Stone Mountain winning 2-1 in a match that went to penalty kicks.

In the rematch, the Grangers looked to have things under control after going up by two goals in the first half.

Nick Hinson put the Grangers on the board with a goal with 19 minutes left in the first half.

Less than two minutes later, the Grangers scored again, with Brackett heading the ball into the net, and Stone Mountain found itself in a 2-0 hole.

It appeared as though the Grangers would take that two-goal lead into the half, but the Pirates scored a goal with nine seconds left to get a huge momentum boost.

There was some confusion among LaGrange’s defensive players, and the Pirates took advantage of an empty net to score the goal.

When the teams came out for the second half, the Pirates dominated the action, and with 35:22 left they tied the game at 2-2.

“You have to stay calm in that situation. That’s the biggest thing,” senior Jay Free said. “If you start panicking, you’re in trouble. You just can’t panic.”

The Grangers didn’t panic.

They soon began to control the pace, and they started to keep the ball on the Stone Mountain side of the field.

The Grangers began peppering the Stone Mountain goal keeper with shot attempts, but they kept getting turned away.

Bartley Griffin, Jackson Fagundes and Qua Tucker were all on target with their shot attempts, but the goalie managed to get his hands on the ball.

Finally, with time winding down, the Grangers broke through, and it was the youngest player on the field delivering.

It was a small window between the goal keeper and the back of the net, but Rosencrants was able to find it, and the Grangers had the lead.

Roscencrants, who now has three goals this season, called it an “incredible” feeling to come through in that situation.

The Pirates came into Callaway Stadium and took the fight to the Grangers, but in the end, it was the home team finding a way to survive and advance.

“We expected a good fight. We’ve had a lot of matches like that during the season,” Hinson said. “We just had to step it up. And we did.”

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