Dominant victory for Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
During the first month of the season, the LaGrange Grangers faced a loaded schedule that included elite soccer teams from Georgia and Alabama.
The Grangers came through that stretch in fine fashion with a 2-2-2 record, and that included a scoreless draw with a Hoover team that’s ranked first in Alabama’s highest classification.
On a chilly Tuesday night at Callaway Stadium, the scheduled lightened up for one day at least.
Facing an overmatched Kendrick squad, LaGrange won 10-0 in a game that was shortened to one half.
Even though Kendrick isn’t of the same caliber as LaGrange’s previous opponents, junior Johnny McDonald said it was a game the players were taking seriously.
“We can’t come into these games thinking they’re going to be worse,” McDonald said. “We’ve got to come in and play our hardest. So that’s what we did. But we definitely had ideas in our head that we needed to work on.”
It took the Grangers less than five minutes to notch their first goal, with Robert Reese doing the honors.
That was part of a big night for Reese, who had a hat trick with three goals.
One of those goals was a thing of beauty.
On a corner kick from McDonald, Reese headed the ball past the goal keeper to give the Grangers a 3-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.
McDonald scored two goals of his own, and he also had three assists.
Tripp Hollstrom had two goals and two assists, and Josue Recinos, Harrison Hunnicutt and Logan Lopez also had goals.
Lopez also had three assists, and Hunnicutt had one assist.
Shane Pulliam, LaGrange’s head coach, said unselfishness was the word of the day.
“We know it’s going to be this kind of game,” Pulliam said. “The biggest thing whenever we play these kind of teams is don’t be selfish. Don’t go in and try to do it all by yourself, because you’re going to score goals.”
Pulliam added that “we’ve got to do the stuff that’ll get us more prepared for the better teams. That means we move the ball quick, we get it wide, we serve it in, we work on our runs. And just use it as a giant shooting session.
LaGrange now turns its attention to the all-important region schedule.
LaGrange plays the first of six Region 5-AAAA games on March 15 at Cedartown.
Last season, LaGrange finished second to Cartersville in the region before reaching the second round of the playoffs.
McDonald believes the Grangers are prepared to make some noise in region play.
“It really is coming together nice,” he said. “All the young kids are filling in the roles that the seniors played last year. It’s coming together. And those hard teams we played definitely helped shape us.”