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Lady Tigers are headed to state

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

They’re state-bound.

The Troup Lady Tigers, thanks to Tuesday’s 8-1 road win over Spencer, have earned one of Region 2-AAAA’s four spots in the state soccer playoffs.

It’s a big step for a program that has struggled to find success over the years, and this will be the first time any of the team’s players have gotten a chance to compete at state.

“We’ve been playing since our eighth-grade year, and we’ve had a lot of coaches,” said senior captain Alyssa Barton. “It’s made us closer, so we connect more. We’re grown close to each other, on and off the field. It’s made us a better team.”

Fellow senior captain Emme Thraikill, whose father Pete Thrailkill was a former member of the coaching staff, said “we’ve improved a lot since the eighth grade, despite all the different coaches.”

Troup, after earning road wins over Valley on Monday and Spencer on Tuesday, returned home on Wednesday and fell to Northside-Columbus 11-1. Monserrath Villar-Vazquez scored Troup’s lone goal.

It was a tough loss against a quality team, but head coach Eddie Lawson felt it was important for the players to face an opponent of that caliber.

“The girls got to go out and see some competition,” Lawson said. “We’ve missed some games with the girls. We played Valley, Spencer, and now we see what a really good team is, so let’s see how much better than we were two months ago.”

The most important game of the week was the one on Tuesday against Spencer.

It was a game the Lady Tigers had to have to earn a playoff spot, and they made it happen in dominant fashion.

Felicity Gill had a monster night for Troup with five goals, and Thrailkill, Barton and fellow senior Emelie Reed each scored one goal.

“I felt pretty confident going in,” Thrailkill said. “We played them two years ago, and we knew we could win.”

Lawson was proud of the way the players took care of business.

“They knew if they won they were in, and they went down there and played ball, and they had fun,” Lawson said. “You just see them playing soccer.”

Thrailkill, Barton and Emily Beesley are the team’s captains, and while they and some other key players have plenty of varsity experience, there are also plenty of players getting on-the-job training during the season.

“It starts with (the captains), but we’ve got a lot of young ones, and they’re learning,” Lawson said. “It’s baptism by fire.”

Troup returns to action with a non-region home game against Harris County on April 5.