LaGrange gives reigning state champs all they can handle, falls in 4A state quarterfinals

Published 10:23 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

What was perhaps the best season in LaGrange girls soccer history reached its heartbreaking conclusion on Monday night, falling 5-1 to Westminster in the GHSA 4A state quarterfinals. Lagrange has never made the state semifinals before and pushed reigning state champions Westminster to its limits. The game was a close contest until the final 15 minutes of the contest as the Grangers threw caution to the wind in search of an equalizing goal.

The first half was evenly contested, but it might have not been so close if Emma Maradik didn’t get down low to make a huge save just a minute into the game to keep LaGrange’s confidence from shattering.

From there, LaGrange bunkered in and staved off wave after wave of attack from the Wildcats.

Westminster possessed the majority of the ball in the first half but struggled to break down the LaGrange midfield and backline. 

This was in large part due to senior Sam Cottle moving into defensive midfield in the sentence of regular starter Demi Russell. Cottle was superb in breaking up play and frustrating the Wildcats. 

The Grangers played on the counter and nearly took an early lead when Karley Perry’s shot trickled just wide of goal which would serve as the best chance in the first half for the away side.

Westminster eventually broke through with just seven minutes left in the first half.

Despite letting in a late goal, the team did not let their heads slump as halftime hit.

The Wildcats came out of the break swarming and quickly doubled their lead with a thunderous strike from the adage of the box that Maradik could just get her fingers to, but couldn’t keep it out of the back of the net.

LaGrange continued to weather the storm and look for a breakthrough on the other side of the field. With limited opportunities, Georgia State commit Karley Perry carved up the left side of the Wildcat defense and buried a chance to draw LaGrange within just one goal with 30 minutes left. The Grangers huffed and puffed, but could not find an equalizer. With just 16 minutes to go in the game, Perry once again carved up the left side of the defense and cut a beautiful pass back, but Amelia Rockwell could not get under the ball and missed the goal.

A minute later, the Wildcats scored their third goal of the game to take control.

LaGrange continued to throw numbers forward and Cottle had a header saved brilliantly as well as a shot from close quarters parried wide. 

Westminster added a couple of consolation goals later to make the score more flattering to the home crowd.

LaGrange was outmanned by the private powerhouse as the Wildcats had enough players on their bench to field two extra teams while the Grangers had just four substitutes.

The Grangers will have to say goodbye to what is likely the most talented graduating class in program history. Cottle, Perry and Carlee Roland will all be playing college soccer with Perry becoming the first player in program history to earn a Division I soccer. The team will also lose starting center-back Morgan Fausett and backup goalkeeper Jade DeLeon. 

The program has made back-to-back state quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The team will look to have a more even playing field next season as they drop down to the 3A classification.