Dramatic win for Lady Grangers
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – That one lived up to the billing.
The girls’ soccer teams from LaGrange and Chapel Hill have both enjoyed phenomenal seasons, and on Friday night at Callaway Stadium, they got together with region supremacy on the line.
Twice in regulation LaGrange took the lead, only to watch Chapel Hill fight back to tie it.
In the second of the two five-minute overtime periods, LaGrange’s Maggie Asbell scored on a free kick from about 40 yards away.
Chapel Hill was unable to answer for a third time, and LaGrange celebrated a thrilling 3-2 victory.
Asbell said the mental strength of the LaGrange players made a big difference.
“That’s the only way you can win games like that is that mentality,” Asbell said. “It’s mind over matter definitely. By the second overtime, you’re dead. What keeps you going is the adrenaline, and the urge to fight.”
LaGrange (9-3 overall) improved to 5-0 in Region 5-AAAA, and it has one region game remaining on Tuesday at home against Cartersville.
No matter what happens in that game, LaGrange will be the region champion because it owns the tie-breaker edge against Chapel Hill.
Asbell, who has had an outstanding junior season, scored two goals for LaGrange, while freshman Caroline Thompson had one goal.
On the defensive end, LaGrange’s defense stood tall against a talented and unbeaten Chapel Hill team that has been scoring goals in bunches this season.
LaGrange goal keeper Maurie White had six saves.
Thompson’s goal gave LaGrange a 2-1 lead with 6:30 remaining in regulation.
With 3:15 to play, a LaGrange player accidentally hit the ball into the net following a Chapel Hill free kick, and it was tied 2-2.
After regulation ended with the score still deadlocked, it was on to overtime.
The first five-minute overtime period ended without any goals.
In the second overtime, Asbell lined up for a free kick on the side of the field, and she said her “goal was to score.”
“Back-up plan, it would ricochet off someone, but my goal was to score,” she added. “I missed two free kicks trying to do exactly the same thing. I looked at the clock, and I thought it was basically now or never.”
Chapel Hill couldn’t respond with the tying goal, and the night belonged to LaGrange.
LaGrange coach Andy Fritchley said the leadership shown by the seniors was critical.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the seniors,” he said. “You could hear them pumping everybody up. They said we’ve got this, and you’ve got to keep fighting. Late in the game, your legs our shot, and that’s all you have is that fortitude.”
LaGrange took a 1-0 lead with less than 10 minutes remaining in the first half on a goal by Asbell, and Thompson had the assist.
With 31:19 left in the second half, Chapel Hill notched the tying goal.
It remained a 1-1 game until Thompson unleashed a shot from about 30 yards away, and it got past the keeper to give LaGrange the lead once again.
A little more than three minutes later, Chapel Hill had some good fortune with the own-goal, and it was tied for the second time.
LaGrange hung tough, though, and found a way to get it done.
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