Grangers fight back to force a tie
LAGRANGE – There were less than 20 minutes left on the game clock, and the situation was looking dire for the LaGrange Grangers.
Facing Central-Phenix City on Friday night at Gardner-Newman Middle School, LaGrange was trailing 2-0 in the second half of the boys’ soccer match.
LaGrange kept fighting, though.
The Grangers got within one on a successful penalty kick by Matthew Thomas, and Austin Stamper scored the tying goal, and the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Also on Friday, the LaGrange girls’ team blanked Central-Phenix City 4-0, and the Troup boys’ team fell to Hardaway 3-1.
The Grangers, trailing by two, needed something positive to happen, and they got it when a Central-Phenix City player touched the ball with his hands near the goal.
LaGrange was awarded a penalty kick, and it was Thomas who attemped it.
Thomas, a senior leader for LaGrange, knocked the ball into the net, and it was a one-goal game.
A few minutes later, LaGrange attempted a corner kick, and Stamper was able to get a leg on the ball and slip it into the net for the tying goal.
Stamper was injured on the play, and unfortunately for the Grangers, having a player get hurt has been commonplace this season.
“I haven’t been healthy all year. I just take it in stride,” LaGrange head coach Keita Placide said. “We’re going through growing pains, and I’m OK with it. We just have to teach them and keep moving.”
It has been a struggle at times this season for the new-look Grangers, and the injuries haven’t helped, but Placide said the effort is there every game, and he was proud of the comeback on Friday.
“It showed tonight. They had that hunger,” Placide said. “But everytime we get a little healthy, things happen.”
In Friday’s first game at Gardner-Newman, the Lady Grangers surged to a 4-0 halftime lead, and that’s the way the game ended.
It didn’t take LaGrange long to notch the game’s first goal.
Less than a minute into the game, Hannah Asbell scored to give LaGrange a 1-0 lead.
Senior Reagan Peters did the rest of the scoring for LaGrange.
The senior had three goals, giving her seven goals for the season.
Both LaGrange teams now turn their attention to Monday’s Region 1-AAAAA home showdown against Columbus.
The games will be played at Gardner-Newman, with the girls’ game starting at 5:30 p.m., and the boys’ game to follow at 7:30 p.m.
Both LaGrange teams are 0-1 in the region after falling to Northside.
The Troup Tigers have had a terrific season, and they came into Friday’s game with a 4-1-1 record, but they were unable to add another victory to the total.
Hardaway took a 3-0 lead at the half, and while Troup dominated the second half, it was only able to notch the one goal.
Senior Juan Herrera gave Troup its lone goal when he made a penalty kick in the second half.
“The first half didn’t go our way,” Troup head coach Jase Crenshaw said. “The second half, Matt Moore, our keeper, maybe touched the ball one time, and we probably had a dozen shots, and half of those were on frame. But we didn’t come to play two halves tonight, and that’s what you have to do to win. It just didn’t go our way tonight.”
After Herrera made the penalty kick with about five minutes remaining, the Tigers thought they may have scored again on a header by Thomas Trotter off of a corner kick.
“I turned and thought it went in,” Crenshaw said. “Some of us thought it went over the line. It would have gotten interesting.”
Troup will make its Region 5-AAAA debut when it hosts Carrollton on Tuesday.
Last season, Troup won 2-1 at Carrollton.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports