Late goal lifts Grangers

Published 3:03 pm Sunday, March 12, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE – For the second straight region game, one goal was enough for the LaGrange Grangers.

In its Region 5-AAAA opener, LaGrange outlasted Central-Carroll 1-0, with Robert Reese scoring the game’s only goal in the first half.

On Friday night, LaGrange was at home for another region game against Sandy Creek, and once again it was a tight one.

It was scoreless until Max Halcomb scored with 9:03 to play to give LaGrange a 1-0 lead, and that was the final score.

“Max had a couple of good shots, and finally found the back of the net,” LaGrange head coach Keita Placide said.

It wasn’t an easy shot.

Halcomb was about 20 yards away, and he ripped the ball toward the right side of the goal, and it had enough to force to deflect off of the goal keeper’s hand and into the net.

“They played a bad ball out, and I capitalized,” Halcomb said. “The keeper was off his line. And I just hit it to the far post where he wasn’t.”

It was another key region win for LaGrange, which has put itself into position to return to the state playoffs after missing out next year.

Whereas the Grangers struggled in close matches a year ago, they’re finding a way to win them this season.

“That’s something we couldn’t do last year,” Placide said. “Which again, I’ve been saying the soccer IQ is 10 times higher. But again, it’s a young team, but I would say our young kids play at a high level.”

The Grangers dominated the Patriots and maintained possession most of the game, but the outcome remained in doubt the whole way.

“Give it to Sandy Creek,” Placide said. “They came with a smart approach. It was difficult for us to break them down.”

While glad to walk away with the win, Halcomb said there is plenty of room for improvement moving forward.

“We’re winning, but we can get better,” he said. “We should have won this one 5-0, 6-0. But a win is a win.”

After Halcomb’s goal, LaGrange still had to keep Sandy Creek from finding the net over the final nine minutes.

With a little more than two minutes remaining, the Patriots got one of their best looks at the goal, and Butler Evans made a diving stop for the save.

Sandy Creek didn’t get any more scoring opportunities after that, and LaGrange walked away with the win.

LaGrange will try to go to 3-0 in the region with a road win over Cedartown on Tuesday.

OF NOTE: For photos from Friday’s game, check out