Lady Grangers are aiming high
Published 12:34 am Thursday, March 15, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s a different year, but the same lofty goals for the LaGrange High girls’ soccer team.
In 2017, the Lady Grangers won the Region 5-AAAA championship before making it to the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Flash forward a year, and the Lady Grangers have put themselves in position to compete for another region title, and possibly make another run at state.
After opening region play with a hard-earned 2-1 road win over Sandy Creek, LaGrange moved to 2-0 in the region with an 11-1 home win over Cedartown on Tuesday.
LaGrange has five region games remaining, including next week’s road showdown at Chapel Hill.
A year ago, LaGrange beat Chapel 3-2 in overtime to sew up the region championship, and those two teams are two of the favorites this season.
While there are a lot of familiar faces this season, including the five seniors, it is a different team.
Gone are some critical members of the 2017 team, and there are four freshmen who have come in and gotten significant playing time.
Freshmen Maddie McPeters, Kylie Russell, Emma Matthews and Sydney Ormsby have all jumped in and been huge contributors.
Ormsby, in fact, is the team’s second-leading scorer with 10 goals.
The Lady Grangers lost some games early, but they appear to be hitting their stride with some key region games coming up.
“I think since we’ve gotten some younger players who have had to fill in the gaps, we’ve had to find a new way to play, to build a different identity,” said Maurie White, LaGrange’s outstanding senior goal keeper.
From an offensive standpoint, LaGrange had its best game of the season against Cedartown with 11 goals.
Four of those goals came from senior Maggie Asbell, who only had one goal before Wednesday’s game.
Sophomore Caroline Thompson and Ormsby each had a hat trick with three goals, and sophomore Abby Mazzolini scored her first goal of the season.
For coach Colin Ross, a highlight of the game was the way so many different players got involved offensively.
Ormsby, Thompson and Asbell had two assists apiece, and Lindsey Woodham, Mazzolini, Izzy Pippin, Eva Hutton and Hayley Brazell had one assist apiece.
“We had eight different people get an assist,” Ross said. “That was huge.”
Ross said that Brazell, one of the seniors, was a standout performer in the game.
“Haley brought a completely different side of her game against Cedartown,” Ross said. “She got up the field, got crosses in, was dangerous.”
Brazell, Woodham, Hutton, Asbell and White are the team’s seniors.
As one of the veterans, Brazell has embraced her role as a team leader.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Brazell said. “I like being able to help, and I like having them feel they can come and ask for help.”
For the season, LaGrange now has two players in double digits in goals.
Thompson, despite missing some games with an injury, leads the way with 11 goals, and Ormsby has been a breakout star with 10 goals as a freshman.
Thompson, who is midway through her second season, already has 30 goals as a high-school player.
Asbell was LaGrange’s leading scorer with 35 goals last season, but she is being asked to take on a different role this year and she hasn’t had as many scoring opportunities.
As she showed against Cedartown, though, Asbell still knows how to finish when she gets a scoring opportunity.
Pippin has three goals, and Devon Taylor, Hutton, Matthews and Russell have one goal apiece.
Thompson is tops on the team with six assists, and Mazzolini and Ormsby each has five assists.
LaGrange’s defense was up to the challenge against Cedartown as well.
Cedartown got an early goal to tie it at 1-1, but it was held scoreless the rest of the way.
At the back end of the defense is White, who has been terrific in goal the past few seasons.
“I think I’ve gotten more confident,” White said. “There’s still stuff that I have to work on, but I’ve tried to step up for the team. Sometimes it gets stressful, but I’ve done OK.”
White’s top high-school moment so far came in last year’s game against Chapel Hill when she made some big-time saves in the overtime win that clinched the region title.
“My favorite game last year was Chapel Hill,” she said. “I had to make a bunch of saves.”
LaGrange will continue its region schedule with a game against Troup at Callaway Stadium on Tuesday before visiting Chapel Hill on March 23.
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