Grangers win region championship
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
With Wednesday’s 10-0 home win over the Kendrick Cherokees, the LaGrange Grangers sewed up the Region 2-AAAA soccer championship.
LaGrange (9-4 overall) improved to 7-0 in region play, and it won’t play its final scheduled region game because Jordan has forfeited.
The Grangers have four more regular-season games before they turn their attention to the state playoffs, and they’ll be at home for a first-round game.
The Grangers all but wrapped up the region championship with last week’s dramatic 1-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Devils.
While that was a hard-fought, tense, down-to-the-wire game, there was no drama on Wednesday night at Callaway Stadium.
Head coach Shane Pulliam made sure everyone got some playing time, and seven different players scored a goal.
“We played guys that normally don’t get to play,” Pulliam said. “A lot of these guys might be starters next year. They need the time.”
Senior Owen Quimbayo and sophomore playmaker Dominys Bonilla led LaGrange with two goals apiece, and Julian Santiago, Jan Alvarado, Cameron Carter, Ander Gay, Pearson Knight and Jason Recinos each had one goal.
Many of the team members have shared the field since they first started playing the sport, and that chemistry has helped the Grangers win region titles in 2019 and 2021, and they were the favorite to win it last year as well but the season was canceled because of COVID-19.
“We’ve played together, travel ball, since we were little,” said senior Pearson Knight. “This is like our travel team. This is probably the last time we’ll get to play together.”
Knight, who leads the Grangers with 15 goals this season, enjoyed watching some of his teammates who don’t usually play a lot get a chance to show what they can do.
“I love watching all my teammates play,” Knight said. “I like watching them have the chance, and it’s real fun for them to get to play.”
It took the Grangers more than 20 minutes to notch their first goal, with Bonilla scoring with 10:21 left in the first half.
Less than two minutes later, Bonilla assisted on Alvarado’s goal, and LaGrange led 2-0.
With 14:07 left in the first half, Quimbayo headed the ball into the net following a free kick, and the Grangers were on top 3-0.
Jordan’s goal with 8:43 left in the half pushed the lead to 4-0, and Quimbayo’s second goal, which came with 3:30 to play in the half, made it a 5-0 game.
The Grangers extended their lead on Santiago’s goal less than four minutes into the second half, and Bonilla beat the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation with 27:43 to play to put the home team on top 7-0.
With 23:31 to play, Bonilla took a corner kick, and Gay headed the ball into the net for his first career goal.
Knight scored on a free kick with 8:32 to play, and Recinos capped the scoring moments later when his kick deflected off of the goal keeper’s hands and into the net.
The game ended at that point because of the mercy rule.
LaGrange is off until April 9 when it hosts Buford.