Late goal from Bryant stuns Whitewater, sees LaGrange win region championship

Published 11:42 pm Thursday, March 30, 2023

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It was all to play for when the LaGrange boys soccer team met up with Whitewater at Callaway Stadium on Thursday. With the Region 4-4A title on the line, the Grangers put together a scintillating performance to edge out the Wildcats 2-1 and claim its first region title in two years.

“We have come a long way since February where we were playing the best teams in the state and giving up four goals a game to now where we are getting better and believing in what we can do,” LaGrange coach Shane Pulliam said. “It is a testament to our guys, the fans, the administration and everybody involved with our program that we are able to do what we are able to do.”

Jordan Bryant proved the hero with a hair under 10 minutes on the clock, latching on to the end of a corner kick from Ty Ormsby and delivered a massively important goal for the Grangers. Bryant has been monumental for LaGrange this season and has developed into a hard-working goal-scoring center forward that is as integral to the team as any player in blue and white right now.

“He has taken a big step forward and he also had this in him,” Pulliam said. “He is delivering the type of performances he has always been capable of.”

After a loss last time out to bitter rivals Troup, the Grangers showed grit and character to bounce back against Whitewater. After conceding a goal in the opening 10 minutes, the Grangers did not fold, they continued to press forward and take their chances. 

“Our guys know that they have to take care of business tonight,” Pulliam said. “We had to shift our team around, but it worked. When we shifted we got a goal immediately.”

LaGrange finally broke through when Cade Hollstrom got on the end of a pass from Luis Morales to tie the game with 16:16 left in the first half. Hollstrom is a key figure in midfield and he could be in doubt for the opening playoff game as he left the game late with a knee injury and did not return. 

LaGrange had a chance to seal the game late with a penalty kick but the shot went wide of the post. The Grangers had to hold on late with Reese Lester making important clearances and saves to preserve the victory for the home side. 

The difference between a win and loss had more than a region title on the line. LaGrange now has the opportunity to host the first two rounds of the playoffs and possibly further if the Granger make a deep run, but a loss would have likely seen them hit the road on a tiebreaker. 

LaGrange finished the regular season with a 9-8-1 record overall and 6-1 in region play. The Grangers await their opponent with a likely opening round playoff date of April  14 at Callaway Stadium. 

“We have been on the road 2/3rds of the season so playing at home is going to be huge for us,” Pulliam said.