Local connection for Panthers
Published 8:24 pm Monday, May 27, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’re teammates again.
For years, Breanna Gay, Adreanna Creed and Chloe McGuffin played together on the Troup Titans travel soccer team.
This fall, the trio will share the field once again as members of the LaGrange College women’s soccer team.
Creed and McGuffin are heading into their sophomore seasons, while Gay is preparing for her debut season as a college player.
Creed and Gay are Troup High graduates, while McGuffin was a standout player at Callaway.
Beginning in Augusta when the season gets under way, the three of them will try to help the Panthers improve on their 4-9-2 record from a year ago.
“We’re a very young team,” said McGuffin, who along with Creed was in the starting lineup on day one last season. “The majority of us were freshmen. Most of us didn’t know each other, didn’t know how to play with each other. It was more of a developing year I think. We definitely saw some progress. I think it’ll get better from here.”
McGuffin and Creed were a part of the Panthers’ youth movement last season.
While the record could have been better, the Panthers still won more games than they did in the 2016 and 2017 seasons combined.
McGuffin played in 11 games with 11 starts, while Creed appeared in 13 games with seven starts.
Both players dealt with injuries.
McGuffin missed five games after suffering a concussion during a loss to Huntingdon on Oct. 3.
“They were taking a corner. I jumped up, and it hit me, and it jarred my head back,” McGuffin said. “Everything was spinning and said, that’s not good.”
McGuffin returned for the final two games of the season, a loss to Maryville, and a tie with Agnes Scott.
“I hate that I had to be out for that time, but I definitely enjoyed the season,” McGuffin said. “I enjoyed coming out here and being with the girls. I had a better connection than I even had in high school.”
McGuffin came to LaGrange College after an exceptional prep career at Callaway.
McGuffin helped lead Callaway to state-tournament wins in 2017 and 2018.
McGuffin had other options when it came time to choose a college, but she liked what LaGrange College had to offer, particularly the chance to be around some familiar faces.
“While I’m a social, outgoing person, I’d still rather have a friendly face with me,” McGuffin said. “I think that was the one thing I was most excited about is I would know people. I was torn between here and a school in Louisiana where I knew I’d get as much playing time as here. But I also knew that if I went there, I’d be completely along. My favorite thing about the season was I was home. I knew the area. I knew some of the girls on the team, so that made it a lot easier for me.”
Creed, like McGuffin, had her freshman season interrupted by an injury.
During an early-season game, Creed collided with an opposing goal keeper and came away with a bum ankle.
“The goalie came out, and I tried to tap it around her, and she slid into my leg,” Creed said. “So I hurt my ankle, and I was out for a little bit.”
Creed sat out nine games before returning, and she was in the starting lineup for the final five games.
“It was fun, watching us develop,” Creed said. “The upper-classmen would constantly tell us, we’re so thankful for y’all. It was nice seeing that.”
Creed and McGuffin were two of the 15 freshmen on the 2018 team, and coach Fred Wagenaar is bringing in some talented first-year players this season as well.
“He brought in a bunch of good players last year,” Creed said. “Now that’s he’s bringing in more, I’m excited to see the potential.”
Creed added that “we were close last year. This year, I feel like it’s going to be a lot better.”
One of the newcomers is Gay, who is looking forward to being re-united with Creed and McGuffin.
“I know them, and I know how they play,” Gay said. “It’ll be fun.”
Gay’s hope is to play right away this season, just as McGuffin and Creed did last fall.
“It’s a big step,” Gay said. “Knowing they did that is really encouraging.”
Gay believes Wagenaar, who is in his sixth season as the Panthers’ coach, is committed to getting the program on the winning track.
“I know he really wants to start winning games, and he has the energy to do so,” Wagenaar said. “He’s been recruiting people that are going to help do that.”
McGuffin’s hope is that the players who are returning will use everything that happened a year ago, the good and the bad, as a learning experience.
“Every season has its ups and downs,” McGuffin said. “Every season has its ups and downs. I think the main thing to focus on is, we’re taking those downs, and instead of seeing them as something bad, seeing them as a learning experience.”
McGuffin added that “we have to focus on being a team. We have to focus on wanting to be better.”