Back in the postseason: LaGrange Academy boys soccer makes playoffs in first season back as a program

Published 12:21 pm Saturday, April 27, 2024

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After years with no boys soccer team at LaGrange Academy, the program has enjoyed a revival this year. Enjoyed might be an understatement as the team punched its ticket to the postseason in just the first year back as a program.

Playoffs seem like a pipe dream early in the season. The Warriors lost all of their first five games of the season, being outscored 23-3 over that span. 

LaGrange Academy coach Mike Coburn believes the team hit a real low point in their 7-2 loss to Atlanta Jewish Academy, but the response was exactly what he desired from his team.

“And after that game, my captains, they became captains,” Coburn said. “In the huddle after the game, they didn’t want me to talk. They wanted to do all the talking. The team started rallying together, the next practice was the best practice we had had. They started competing for everything, and the whole mindset changed.”

The team out next game and beat Harvester Christian 3-2 for their first win back as a program. 

“They started to really put it together and it was the first game where they stopped thinking about wanting to score a goal and started thinking about how they can build up as a team,” Coburn said. “They played extremely unselfishly and did all the little things that we work on in practice right.”

It took a while for the team to buy into the program and what Coburn was preaching. The athletes on the team had been a part of many losing seasons with other sports at LaGrange Academy and that mentality began to bleed over into soccer.

“So these boys in all sports have not had a whole lot of success. And so, losing has become, sadly, something they’ve had to deal with,” Coburn said. “And so they were excited about the season and then we lost those first two and they kind of drift back into their, ‘alright, here we go again’ approach.” 

Thanks to senior leaders like Jackson Malone, the team was able to turn their season around. 

“He went into the season knowing he was going to have to be a key player, but he didn’t really take his role seriously at first, but over the season he has shown a lot of maturity and growth and broke somebody the young guys on the team really look up to,” Coburn said. 

LaGrange Academy won four of its last five games, outscoring opponents 35-9 over those five games to punch their ticket to the playoffs.  

The belief is there heading into the playoffs. The Warriors will travel to take on rival St. George’s next Tuesday in the opening round of the playoffs, having lost to the team twice in the regular season, 3-0 and 6-0.

The Warriors are now fully healthy and hungry for a chance at revenge.

“We didn’t have one of our best players [Owen Holston] when we played them the first time, but we have him back and healthy now and are ready for a chance to show what we can do at full strength,” Coburn said.

Full strength consists of 13 players — Blake Kendrick, Jacob Uritson, Owen Sells, Owen Holston, Colm Silcox, Lucah Prophett, Brayden Salter, Walker Rockwell, Azeem Saleem, Grayson Salter, Knox Jones, Anderson Moore and Tristen Anderson.