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Waiting game for LaGrange soccer team

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It’s been a remarkable run of success for the LaGrange High girls’ soccer program.

Since the start of the 2017 season, the Lady Grangers are 20-0 against region opponents, and they’re trying to win a fourth consecutive Region 5-AAAA championship.

That title quest has been put on hold, though, as the world deals with the threat of the coronavirus.

Like every other spring sports team in the state, LaGrange hasn’t been able to play a game or hold a practice for two weeks.

That hiatus will continue at least until April 27, which is the earliest day schools in Troup County and across the state will be able to re-open.

There is also the possibility that school won’t return, which would mean the remainder of the spring sports seasons will be canceled.

The best-case scenario has the season resuming more than six weeks since the Lady Grangers played their most recent game.

“My heart breaks for the senior class,” said Andy Fritchley, who coaches the team along with Colin Ross. “Obviously this is a crisis world-wide, and I know the girls understand that, but you still have empathy for the situation.”

The four seniors on the team are Caroline Thompson, Abby Mazzolini, Hana Sato and Anna Doerr.

Since their arrival in the program, the Lady Grangers haven’t lost a region game, and they’ve won four state-tournament games, including two in 2017.

Fritchley is proud of the maturity the seniors have shown during a difficult time.

“The seniors, they get it,” Fritchley said. “They understand the big picture. I’m really proud that they understand that this is an important thing that they’re doing to keep this pandemic under wraps. They all get that.”

LaGrange (6-2 overall) beat Sandy Creek 8-0 in March 10 to improve to 2-0 in region play.

That game was on a Tuesday, and three days later the team found out that the season would be suspended for at least two weeks.

Whether the season will continue remains to be seen, but the coaches encouraged the players to stay diligent and be prepared for when and if they do get to play again.

“After finding out that there was going to be a pause, a break in the season, you tell them to work on your own, but for goodness sake don’t get around other teammates,” Fritchley said. “So run on your own, work on your juggling, work on your skills, stay sharp.”

There is, though, no replacement for team practices, no matter how much work the players do on their own.

“It’s just so hard, because part of the special thing about sports is the chemistry, and if affects us as coaches, too. We’ve got this huge void now. We’re so used to being around the girls, and just feeding off of their enthusiasm, too.”