LaGrange soccer teams tune up for region play
Published 1:31 pm Thursday, March 1, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
A two-goal deficit was no problem for the LaGrange Grangers.
Facing Pike County in a soccer showdown at Callaway Stadium on Tuesday, LaGrange rallied from 2-0 down in the first half to pull off a 3-2 victory.
Making the comeback even more impressive, LaGrange played a good portion of the game down a man since one of its players was ejected after receiving a second yellow card.
Shane Pulliam, LaGrange’s first-year head coach, said the game was an indication of a growing belief the players have in what they’re doing.
“I think they have a confidence in what I’m telling them. And that’s part of it,” Pulliam said. “They’ve got to believe that what you’re telling them is the truth, and have faith to do what you’re doing. That comes back to being coachable.”
After Pike County went up 2-0, LaGrange answered a short time later on a Harrison Hunnicutt goal following a Max Halcomb free kick.
LaGrange headed to the halftime break trailing 2-1, and it would have to play the second half as a disadvantage because of the ejection.
The Grangers won anyway.
Robert Reese scored on an assist from Liam McDonald to tie the game, and the Grangers took the lead a few minutes later.
McDonald was fouled, and Halcomb made the penalty kick to give the Grangers the lead, and the Pirates were unable to answer.
“We kind of had them on their heels early, and they came back and got that goal and took all the momentum and kept it, and we struggled,” Pulliam said. “But sometimes, you have to have an ugly win, as opposed to no win.”
The win allowed the Grangers to take some momentum into Friday’s Region 5-AAAA opener at Central-Carroll.
LaGrange will play six region games as it looks to nail down a spot in the state playoffs.
“It’s games like this that get you ready for those kind of games on the road,” Pulliam said. “Bad things happen, and you find a way to pull it together and get it done.”
In Tuesday’s girls’ game, LaGrange and Pike County fought to a 1-1 tie.
Pike County scored first, and LaGrange answered with a goal to make it a 1-1 game at the half.
Both teams had scoring chances in the second half, but the defenses were up to the challenge.
Senior goal keeper Maurie White helped LaGrange preserve the tie with some big-time saves, particularly in the second half when Pike County had numerous shot attempts.
“She had some big saves,” LaGrange coach Andy Fritchley said. “She’s really committed to the sport.”
After Pike County took the lead, Maggie Asbell scored to pull LaGrange even.
It was a hard-fought game, and that’s what Fritchley felt the team needed going into a challenging region schedule that begins with Friday’s game at Central-Carroll.
“This is a game we look forward to for that reason,” Fritchley said. “This is what we want to do to build up to our region, which starts Friday.”
LaGrange went unbeaten in the region to capture the championship last season, and one of those wins came against Central-Carroll, although it was by one goal.
Most of LaGrange’s region games were close, and Fritchley expects a repeat of that this year.
“We only beat (Central-Carroll) by a goal,” Fritchley said. “There really are no gimmes.”