Freshman rises to occasion

By Kevin Eckleberry

May 6, 2014

LaGrange High freshman Marat Rosencrants, the youngest player on the field, was ready for the moment.

With time winding down in Tuesday’s state-playoff showdown between LaGrange and Stone Mountain, Rosencrants ended up with the ball resting in front of him.

Rosencrants had a look at the net, and he put his foot into the ball and lofted it over the goal keeper’s head for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.

The Grangers went on to win 3-2 and advance to the Class AAAA quarterfinals against Spalding County.

Rosencrants was shaken up moments before his goal after colliding with a Stone Mountain player, but he didn’t let that keep him from seizing the moment.

“I got knocked down pretty hard. I got hit in the head pretty hard,” Rosencrants said. “I was going to stay down, but I thought, we need this. And the ball was up there. And it went in the goal.”

The goal came from about 20 yards out, and it just went over the out-stretched fingertips of the goal keeper.

LaGrange’s other two goals came in the first half.

Nick Hinson, one of four seniors on the team, scored the first goal with 19 minutes left in the first half.

Less than two minutes later, it was Michael Brackett scoring a goal to give LaGrange a 2-0 lead.

Matthew Thomas delivered the pass, and Brackett headed the ball into the net for the goal.

“Thomas can kick the ball so far, so he kicked it as far as he could, and someone in there is supposed to get his head on it,” Brackett said. “And I did. It went in. It worked our perfectly.”

Qua Tucker added an assist for the Grangers.

ANOTHER REMATCH: For the second straight playoff game, LaGrange will be facing an opponent for the second time this season.

LaGrange visited Stone Mountain on March 1 and lost 2-1 in a match that went to penalty kicks.

In the rematch, LaGrange came away with a 3-2 win.

Now, LaGrange is gearing up to play Spalding County for the second time this season.

On April 8 at Callaway Stadium, LaGrange went up 1-0 in the first half, but Spalding County rallied for a 2-1 win.

Those same two teams will meet at Callaway Stadium on Friday in the third round of the Class AAA state playoffs.

In the earlier game, Rosencrants scored for LaGrange, but Spalding County scored two quick goals to take a 2-1 halftime lead, and it made that lead stand up.

Spalding County beat Americus-Sumter 4-2 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals.

“It’s going to be a great rematch,” Rosencrants said.

LOOKING AHEAD: If LaGrange beats Spalding County, it would be back at Callaway Stadium for a semifinal matchup on May 13 against either Dalton or Perry, who’ll meet in the quarterfinals.

On the other side of the bracket, Statesboro will play Southeast Whitfield, and Cairo will play Johnson.

The Class AAAA championship game will be played at Kennesaw State.

A SHOOTOUT: The Grangers came into Tuesday’s state showdown against Stone Mountain with 13 wins, and there was a common thread in each of those victories.

In all 13 wins, LaGrange hadn’t allowed more than one goal.

The three times the Grangers gave up more than one goal, they lost.

That trend changed on Tuesday.

Stone Mountain scored two goals, but LaGrange found the net three times to claim a 3-2 win.

The Grangers had a few uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns, but they still found a way to prevail.

“It’s a survival game,” LaGrange coach Keita Placide said. “It’s not who plays the best game. It’s who wins. It’s who moves on.”