One of the best seasons in the history of the LaGrange High soccer program came to a heart-breaking conclusion Friday night.
Facing Spalding County in the quarterfinals of the Class AAAA state playoffs at Callaway Stadium, LaGrange dropped a 2-1 decision.
Trailing 1-0, LaGrange tied it with 28:24 remaining when Matthew Thomas scored a brilliant goal on a free kick from more than 40 yards away.
Mackenzie Marcoux put Spalding County back on top with a goal at the 19:29 mark, and while the Grangers had plenty of opportunities to notch the tying goal, they were unable to make it happen.
“We had our chances. We just didn’t capitalize on it,” LaGrange head coach Keita Placide said. “They had two chances, and they did capitalize. That’s the way the game is. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you’re going to get hurt.”
The Grangers finished the season with a 14-5 record, and they won the Region 5-AAAA championship with a perfect 7-0 record before capturing a pair of home wins in the state playoffs.
Two of those losses came against Spalding County.
On April 8, LaGrange grabbed an early 1-0 lead before Spalding County rallied to take a 2-1 win.
In the rematch, it was Spalding County getting out to a 1-0 lead on a goal by Jake Mathis with 17 minutes left in the first half.
It remained a 1-0 game until Thomas came through.
Thomas lined up a free kick at the 40-yard line, and he hammered the ball into the net past the Spalding goal keeper for the tying goal.
Less than 10 minutes later, though, it was the Jaguars reclaiming the lead on the goal by Marcoux.
The Grangers had several great looks at the goal the rest of the way, and they had some near-misses in the final few minutes.
It wasn’t meant to be, though, and it was the Jaguars, not the Grangers, moving on to the final four.
The future does look bright for the Grangers, with all but four players returning.
LaGrange will have to replace seniors Michael Coffman, Jay Free, Yimmi Posada and Nick Hinson
“We have things planned now (for the offseason),” Placide said. “We’ll move on and get ready for next season.”