LaGrange soccer standout honored
Published 11:54 am Thursday, May 30, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
With their championship hopes on the line, the LaGrange Lady Grangers needed someone to step up and make a play.
Junior Caroline Thompson, who has been making an impact since she first put on a LaGrange High soccer uniform, was up to the challenge.
With LaGrange trailing Cartersville 2-1 in overtime, Thompson came through with the game-tying goal, and Sydney Ormsby provided the go-ahead goal moments later.
LaGrange held on for a 3-2 victory to remain unbeaten in region play, and it beat Sandy Creek 3-0 later in the season to wrap up a third consecutive Region 5-AAAA championship.
LaGrange’s exceptional season came to a close with a loss to Blessed Trinity in the second round of the state playoffs.
In a 6-1 loss to Blessed Trinity, Thompson provided the only offensive highlight when she scored a goal in the closing moments.
That was Thompson’s 30th and final goal of the season, and her good work didn’t go unrecognized.
Thompson was selected as the region’s player of the year, and she was one of six LaGrange players who made the all-region team.
Troup, which made great strides last season after going winless in 2018, had three players earn spots on the all-region team.
Also, LaGrange’s Colin Ross and Andy Fritchley were selected as the region’s coaches of the year.
It didn’t take Thompson long to show she was ready for prime time.
As a freshman in 2017, Thompson scored 19 goals on a team that went 14-4-1 and reached the third round of the state playoffs.
Thompson had a team-leading 20 goals as a sophomore, helping LaGrange win another region title and make it to the second round of the state playoffs.
Thompson exploded for 30 goals this year as LaGrange made it three straight region titles while once again advancing to the second round of the state tournament.
“She is so competitive with herself,” Ross said. “That’s what you see with highly-competitive athletes, that it’s more of a competition with themselves than it is everybody else. It doesn’t matter if we’re winning. We were winning like 4-0 or 5-0, and Caroline couldn’t score, and she was so upset. She wouldn’t stop until she scored. She’s got to be contributing, she’s got to be scoring, she’s got to be getting assists. That’s the only way she’s going to be happy.”
Thompson was plenty happy during the thrilling win over Cartersville.
Thompson scored a goal early in the second half to tie it at 1-1, and that’s the way it remained for the duration of regulation.
Cartersville scored early in overtime to go up 2-1 and seize the momentum, but LaGrange wasn’t done.
“We’re thinking if we give up now, we’re definitely going to lose,” Thompson said after the game. “And if we lose tonight, the region is out the window. And that’s what we’re going for, a third region title in a row.”
Thompson notched the tying goal with 12:51 left in overtime, and Ormsby knocked in the go-ahead goal with 11:28 left.
“It felt so awesome when Sydney scored that last goal,” Thompson said.
As important as that win was, there was still work left to do for LaGrange to capture the region crown.
In its final region game against Sandy Creek, Thompson scored two more goals as LaGrange won 3-0.
In the first round of the state playoffs against Stephens County, Thompson again came up big with two goals in a 2-1 victory.
Also making the all-region team for LaGrange was Sydney Ormsby, who had an outstanding sophomore season and was the second-leading scorer.
Ormsby’s biggest goal came in the Cartersville game when she delivered the game-winner, barely a minute after Thompson tied it.
Ormsby took a pass from Maddie McPeters, and she showed off her offensive skills by beating a handful of Cartersville defenders before slamming the ball into the back of the net.
“You get the ball, take a shot, and hope it goes in,” Ormsby said. “That’s what I did.”
While LaGrange was a prolific scoring team with Thompson and Ormsby leading the way, the defense was also exceptional.
Two of the players who helped lead that defense, Emma Matthews and Kylie Russell, were first-team all-region players.
Another one of LaGrange’s offensive players, Maddie McPeters, also earned an honorable-mention selection.
Rachel Harry, who excelled in her first season as a goal keeper, was also an honorable-mention pick.
Ross and Fritchley, who have formed a winning partnership as co-head coaches, were also honored by the region for the job they did leading the team.
“We definitely just balance each other out,” Ross said. “In any sports setting, you’ve got to rely on multiple people. You can’t do it on your own. (Casey Ross has) come in, and she’s one of those voices. She sees things that we don’t see. It’s really being able to focus on different parts of the game. Andy is very individual-oriented, and he breaks things down really easily one-on-one. And I’m a lot more tactical and big picture. So we’ve definitely worked out the balance between us.”
Troup, after struggling through a winless season in 2017, won twice and had three ties this spring.
Helping Troup enjoy a turnaround season were Breanna Gay and Bryce Liechty, who were each first-team all-region players.
Emily Beesley, meanwhile, was an honorable-mention pick.