Dramatic win for Grangers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
What a start to the season it’s been for the LaGrange High boys’ soccer team.
After beating East Coweta 3-2 in Friday’s season opener, LaGrange toppled a strong Starr’s Mill team by the same 3-2 score on Tuesday night at Callaway Stadium.
Pearson Knight, a newcomer to LaGrange’s soccer team, had two goals in Tuesday’s game, including the game-winner with less than five minutes to play.
Knight took a pass from Josue Recinos, and he beat the Starr’s Mill goal-keeper to give LaGrange the 3-2 lead.
“It was a great pass,” Knight said. “My adrenaline was pumping. I got worried the keeper was going to get it because he came out so far, but I was able to get it.”
LaGrange is coming off an exceptional 2019 season.
LaGrange went 14-4-2, won the Region 5-AAAA championship, and reached the second round of the state playoffs before losing to Marist.
Some key players from that team graduated, but among the returnees are seniors Johnny McDonald and Recinos, who combined for 25 goals last season.
LaGrange is playing a challenging early-season schedule that includes Starr’s Mill, which went 20-3-1 last year and made it to the state-championship game in Class AAAAA.
Both teams scored twice in the first half, and it remained a tie game until Knight delivered the go-ahead goal.
Starr’s Mill had some legitimate scoring opportunities in the second half, but it was unable to put the ball in the net, with Cason Blackburn coming through with some big-time saves.
LaGrange got two goals from Knight one from Logan Lopez, Recinos had two assists, and McDonald had one assist.
“We had to absorb a lot, and then we have to counter-punch,” Pulliams said. “We changed how we played, and who played where. I think we kind of found a winning combination.”
It was a confidence-building win for the Grangers over an elite team.
“This is a top-ranked team that makes it to state almost every year,” Knight said. “It was big.”
In last week’s season opener against East Coweta, McDonald had two goals, while Alex Bowie had one goal.
It was tied 2-2 when McDonald scored late in the game on an assist from Tripp Hollstrom.
LaGrange finishes the week with three difficult games.
After playing at Pacelli on Thursday, LaGrange plays Alabama powerhouses Huntsville and Fort Payne at Vestavia Hills (Ala.) on Friday and Saturday.
“My goal was to try to hopefully be 2-2 this week,” Pulliam said. “If we could go 3-1, or 4-0, it might mean we could have a really special season.”