Tall task for Lady Grangers
Published 1:01 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It’s a monumental undertaking.
Marist’s girls’ soccer program is one of the best in the history of the state, and it has nine state championships to prove it.
The current Marist team appears fully capable of bringing home a 10th state championship, but the LaGrange Lady Grangers would love to derail that plan.
LaGrange (11-5-3) will host Marist (16-1-1) in the second round of the Class AAAA state tournament today at 6 p.m.
LaGrange, the number one seed from Region 5-AAAA, overwhelmed Gilmer County 8-0 last week in the first round.
Marist, which finished second in Region 7-AAAA to Blessed Trinity, beat Jefferson 7-1 in its opening-round matchup.
“We have our game plan, and we’re ready,” said Maurie White, LaGrange’s senior goal keeper. “We’ve been watching them, we’ve been figuring out their style of play. And we’re prepared.”
Andy Fritchley, who coaches the team along with Colin Ross, watched Marist beat Jefferson on Friday.
While acknowledging the difficulty of the task, Fritchley doesn’t believe his players will be intimidated.
“The odds are stacked against us, but we’re going to play with dignity, and we’re going to play to win,” Fritchley said. “We’re not going to get beat before we step on the field.”
Five seniors will lead the way for LaGrange.
Among that group is White, who has done an exceptional job as the goal keeper the past few seasons.
The other seniors are Eva Hutton, Haley Brazell, Maggie Asbell and Lindsey Woodham.
Hutton, who has scored four goals this season, said she can’t wait to get on the field today and see what happens.
“No matter what happens tomorrow, I’m just so excited about it,” she said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to play a team of this caliber, and to just work hard with my team. We all just want to come out here and have fun, and do our best, and make an impression and show that we can compete with this team.”
Regardless of the outcome against Marist, Hutton said it has been a joy to be a part of LaGrange’s soccer program.
“I do love the game, and I do love playing soccer, but it’s not something I’m doing for the rest of my life,” Hutton said. “Coming out here and getting to know these girls and spend time together, that is the best thing. That’s the main reason I come out here.”
Maggie Asbell, who has signed with Georgia College and State University where she’ll play alongside her sister Hannah Asbell, has also enjoyed her time as a Lady Granger.
After Monday’s practice at Callaway Stadium, Maggie Asbell said “it’s our home.”
“We’re here every day after school coming together and doing what we love,” she added. “It’s going to be sad to leave when it’s over.”
White, like her friends and fellow seniors, has savored her time in the program.
“I’m going to miss playing a lot,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do, is to come here after school and seeing my friends. I love being out here and playing the team, and seeing other people meet their expectations and get better every day.”
While the seniors provide invaluable leadership, some of the team’s younger players have stepped up in a big way this season.
Sophomore Caroline Thompson is the team’s leading scorer with 18 goals, and freshman Sydney Ormsby is close behind with 16 goals.
Maggie Asbell, who led the team in scoring last season, has added nine goals.
Defensively, LaGrange has been effective all season, and it helps to have a player the caliber of Maurie White in goal.
Today’s challenge is an epic one for White, but she’s ready for it.
“I think it’s going to raise me to new heights,” White said. “It’s a challenge for me to overcome, something different.”