Davis Knight free kick stuns Bainbridge, sends LaGrange to the quarterfinals

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, April 20, 2023

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And breath. 

The LaGrange boys soccer team left it until almost the last possible moment to score the only goal in a 1-0 win over Bainbridge in the round of 16 of the AAAA state playoffs on Thursday. It was senior and captain Davis Knight who delivered the goods for the Grangers, dispatching a free kick from 19-yards out into the lower left corner with a minute left in the game. 

“With a minute left, it was go to overtime and potentially to penalty kicks or just end it now,” Knight said. “When I put the ball down, I knew I wanted to curve the ball around the all to the goalie’s left.”

With the clock ticking down and overtime looming, the game called out for a bit of quality and Knight delivered just that. It was a sumptuous shot that left the goalkeeper rooted to the spot as the ball curled around the four-man wall and nestled into the corner of the net. 

“He is always in the right place at the right time,” LaGrange coach Shane Pulliam said. “You can’t teach that, it is just good instincts.”

The game was back-and-forth with chances at both ends over the first 78 minutes and change. The best chance of the game came with a round 20 minutes left in the first half when Bainbridge stung the crossbar with a shot. 

That was not the only chance Bainbridge had with LaGrange goalkeeper Reese Lester having to make some important saves to preserve the clean sheet and help the Grangers get the win.

“It means a lot to make these saves when my teammates are relying on me in a big moment,” Lester said. “Sometimes I feel nervous, but I always do my best to remain calm, and I know my teammates have my back.”

One of the reasons for Lester’s meteoric rise in his senior season is Rod Skiff, who came on board the coaching staff this season as the goalkeeper coach. 

“I don’t think we would be in the position we are right now if we didn’t bring him in,” Pulliam said. “He’s done tremendous work with our keepers this season.”

It was a complete team effort for the Grangers who had to work for the win after cruising to a 7-0 win over Wayne County in the opening round of the playoffs. 

“Hard work pays off,” Knight said. “Our season did not start off well, but we have made a lot of progress since then. It feels great to make the elite eight, but we want to go even further.”

LaGrange is now 11-8-1 on the season and heading to the quarterfinals for the second time in the last three years. The Grangers will travel to Westminster next Tuesday for the quarterfinal matchup. 

“We’ve played Westminster before, so I think we will be okay mentally,” Pulliam said. “We didn’t give Westminster our best shot last time, and we won’t go there feeling like we are overmatched.”