LaGrange chasing a championship

Published 12:44 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

LAGRANGE –It’s showtime.

The red-hot LaGrange Lady Grangers (12-3-1), who haven’t lost a game in more than two months, will be on their home turf today for the opening round of the Class AAAA state soccer playoffs.

White County, which finished fourth in Region 7-AAAA, will take on Region 5-AAAA-champion LaGrange at 5:30 p.m. at Callaway Stadium.

If LaGrange wins, it would host either Cairo or Thomson in the round of 16 on May 2.

LaGrange fell to 1-3 with a loss to Smiths Station on Feb. 15, but the team has known nothing but success since then.

LaGrange has won 11 of its past 12 games, and it tied a strong Northside team on April 12.

“The thing we’ve never worried about is, they will play with energy,” LaGrange coach Andy Fritchley said. “That’s not something we have to worry about.”

It’s a team that has plenty of veterans, including seniors Hannah Asbell and Maddie Patton, who have each signed letters of intent to play college soccer.

The team’s other senior, Catherine Patton, has been unable to play this season because of an injury, although she has been with her teammates every step of the way.

It’s also a team that relies heavily on players new to high-school soccer, including freshmen Abby Mazzolini, Caroline Thompson, Anna Shank and Anna Doerr.

“We usually have four freshmen on the field, and we have Maurie (White) in goal, and it’s her first time playing keeper,” LaGrange coach Colin Ross said.

Fritchley said it’s an “excellent mix.”

“We have excellent senior leadership, players who’ve been around the block, and then we have real young ones who are fairly new to the sport and how competitive it is,” Fritchley said.

Injuries forced some of the inexperienced players into action.

Two of the team’s top players, Catherine Patton and Katelyn Peters, were unable to play this season because of knee injuries, and junior Eva Hutton missed time early on because of an injury.

Ross said the players have done a nice job of adjusting.

“Cat gets hurt, and we put Maddie into Cat’s position, and gave Anna Shank the opportunity to play Maddie’s spot, and Anna has been fantastic, and Maddie has been fantastic,” Ross said. “And other people that would not have seen the field have been instrumental.”

LaGrange’s biggest win of the season came on March 24 when it beat Chapel Hill 3-2 in overtime to win the region championship.

Twice in the second half LaGrange lost a one-goal lead before finally winning it in overtime.

Maggie Asbell, LaGrange’s leading scorer, connected on a free kick in overtime to provide the decisive goal.

Asbell had two goals in that game, and Thompson had one.

After the game, Maggie Asbell said the mental strength of the players made the 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.”