Troup ready for state challenge
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – He’s been waiting on this.
Alan Vazquez has enjoyed plenty of individual success during his time as a soccer player at Troup High, but he has never participated in a state-playoff game.
That’ll change today.
Vazquez and his Troup teammates will be in Atlanta to take on Marist in the opening round of the Class AAAA state tournament.
While Marist is the number two seed from Region 7-AAAA, Troup finished third in Region 5-AAAA behind Cartersville and LaGrange.
The winner of today’s game will play either Cross Creek or Columbus in the second round.
“We’re ready,” Vazquez said after Troup finished the regular season with a 2-1 victory over Newnan. “I’m very excited about this year, actually. We haven’t been to the playoffs in so long. It’s been a while.”
It has been an exceptional season for the Tigers under first-year head coach Micah Alba, who’ll be leaving Troup at the end of the season to become the football coach at Heritage School in Newnan.
Now, Troup (14-4-1) will look to pull off a road win over Marist, which is first in Class AAAA in the most recent Atlanta Journal Constitution rankings.
“They’re number one in the state right now,” Alba said. “So it’ll be a good match. It’ll be fun to go up to Atlanta to play them.”
Troup has been rolling.
Troup has won 10 of its past 12 games with a tie, and the only loss during that stretch came against LaGrange.
Since that 2-0 loss to LaGrange, Troup has won seven of eight games with a tie against Central-Phenix City.
In the 2-1 win over Newnan that wrapped up the regular season, Jimmy Cancino and Anders Laurent each scored for Troup.
Vazquez has scored a handful of goals this season, but his primary contribution is as a defender, and he has excelled in that role.
“I’ve enjoyed it. It’s been a great four years,” Vazquez said. “And I’m a senior, and I’m happy to be going to the playoffs. I’ve never made it to the playoffs. I’m trying to show, trying to demonstrate to all these people who think that Troup isn’t good enough.