Tough test for LaGrange

Published 1:15 pm Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Daily News

It’s a familiar scenario for the LaGrange Lady Grangers.

A year ago, LaGrange High’s girls’ soccer team won a region championship and an opening-round game in the state playoffs before taking on an Atlanta area private school in the second round.

Marist, which was one of the top-ranked teams not just in Georgia but in the country, won a hard-fought game 3-0 on the way to a state championship.

Flash forward a year and LaGrange has once again captured a region title as well a first-round game at state, and today it will take on another private school with an impressive resume.

Blessed Trinity, the third-place team from Region 7-AAAA, brings a 12-3-1 record into today’s second-round showdown at Callaway Stadium at 6:30 p.m.

Last season, Blessed Trinity made it to the state semifinals before losing on penalty kicks to St. Pius X, so it’s a team that knows what it takes to succeed this time of year.

Standing in Blessed Trinity’s way is LaGrange, which overcame a determined opponent and some nasty weather to advance to the second round.

In a game that began 30 minutes late because of a storm that moved through the area, Caroline Thompson scored a pair of goals as LaGrange beat Stephens County 2-1.

Now, LaGrange will take on one of the state’s soccer powerhouses.

“That’s a team you’re going to play, and they really have no holes, no weaknesses,” said Andy Fritchley, who coaches the team along with Colin Ross. “You’re playing a complete team.”

The same could be said for LaGrange, which has had a phenomenal run of success under the direction of Fritchley and Ross.

The Lady Grangers have won three consecutive Region 5-AAAA championships while compiling an 18-0 region record over that span, and they’ve won four state-playoff games in the past three years.

In 2017, LaGrange made it to the state quarterfinals before losing to Jefferson on penalty kicks after the teams fought to a scoreless tie through regulation and overtime.

Last year, LaGrange beat Gilmer County 8-0 in the first round before falling to Marist.

Last week, LaGrange outlasted Stephens County to secure a state win for the third straight year.

“We’ve had a bunch of playoff experiences,” Fritchley said. “We are inching closer to that level we want to be at, which is getting to the elite eight, getting to the final four. We’re getting there.”

With so many private schools populating Class AAAA, there are going to be tough matchups throughout the state playoffs.

“It can be the second round, it can be the final four. You’re going to meet them at some point,” Fritchley said. “It doesn’t matter when you meet, you’ve got to beat them. If you have elite teams, you have to beat them when they come across the bracket. I know they can win. It’s really up to the group on the field.”