Heart-breaking ending for LaGrange soccer team

Published 2:20 pm Thursday, April 27, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry


LAGRANGE – They fought to the end, but it wasn’t their night.

Chestatee scored a goal with a little more than one minute remaining in the second overtime period on Wednesday night to send the LaGrange Grangers to a 1-0 loss in the opening round of the Class AAAA state soccer tournament.

The loss not only marked the end of the season for the Grangers, who finished second in Region 5-AAAA, but it was also the final game for Keita Placide as the team’s head coach.

Placide is giving up coaching to become the assistant principal at Lone Cane Middle School.

“They’ve given me their heart and soul, excellence on and off the field,” said Placide, LaGrange’s coach for 11 years. “You couldn’t want a better group of kids.”

LaGrange and Chestatee fought to a scoreless tie in regulation, and after a short break they returned to the field for the first of two five-minute overtime periods.

Neither team scored in the first overtime period, so they swapped sides and prepared to play another five minutes.

With 1:43 to play, Chestatee broke through for the game’s first goal.

The Grangers had a good look at the net 30 seconds later, but the ball didn’t mind the mark, and the War Eagles held on for the win.

“They had a lot of chances, and we had a lot of chances as well,” Placide said. “I thought we had one (in the second half) with the break-away.”

With 19:30 to play in the second half, the Chestatee goal keeper came out of the box to make a play.

LaGrange ended up with a look at a defenseless net, but the shot attempt sailed wide, and it remained a scoreless game.

With 7:45 left, Max Halcomb took a free kick from about 40 yards out that was on-target, but the keeper made a leaping save.

Chestatee had some outstanding scoring chances of its own in the second half, but it was unable to connect, and LaGrange goal keeper Butler Evans had a lot to do with that.

Evans made some critical saves in the second half, including a diving stop with 2:17 left in regulation.

Placide will turn the program over to a new coach, and his successor will have plenty to work with.

Senior Marat Rosencrants is leaving, but every other player will be coming back.

For Placide, while he’s looking forward to his new career challenge, leaving the LaGrange soccer program behind is “bittersweet.”

“All I can say (to the players) is to thank them for their service to LaGrange High School,” Placide said.

CALLAWAY: The season came to a close for the Cavaliers with a 4-0 loss to the Pepperell Dragons in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament.

The Cavaliers finished in a three-way tie for first place in Region 5-AA, and they ended up with the number three seed, which is why they had to go on the road.

TROUP: The Troup Tigers fell to the Marist War Eagles 6-0 in the first round of the Class AAAA state tournament.

Troup finished third in Region 5-AAAA to earn its state berth.