LAGRANGE – The LaGrange Grangers were in position to snare a playoff berth.
Early in the second half of Wednesday’s must-win soccer match against the Hardaway Hawks at Gardner Newman Middle School, the Grangers got a goal to take a 2-1 lead.
If the Grangers could have hung onto that lead, they would have secured the fourth and final playoff spot in Region 1-AAAAA.
Unfortunately for the Grangers, they were unable to hold off the Hawks, who found the net twice in the second half to rally for a 3-2 win.
Hardaway will advance to the state playoffs as the region’s fourth seed, while LaGrange’s season will end following its game against Callaway, which is scheduled for Friday.
“It’s a crushing defeat,” LaGrange coach Keita Placide said. “We’re 2-1 going up, and we make some mad mistakes, some bad decisions. And they made us pay.”
Tim Anderson scored a first-half goal for LaGrange, and the game was tied 1-1 at the break.
With 35:29 left in the game, the ball bounced around near the Hardaway goal, and it ended up rolling into the net for a goal, and LaGrange led 2-1.
The lead was short-lived.
With 31:38 to play, Hardaway notched the tying toal.
The game remained tied at 2-2 until Hardaway scored to reclaim the lead with 10:30 to play.
The Grangers couldn’t come through with the equalizing goal, and the Hawks escaped with the narrow win to grab a playoff berth.
After the Callaway game, LaGrange will begin to look ahead to next season, and Placide said some up-and-coming players will hopefully make a difference.
“I’ve got some young boys coming up,” Placide said. “I’ve got some JV players. And they’re hungry, they’re fighting. Competition makes you better.”
While the Grangers will be sitting at home when the playoffs begin, the Lady Grangers have secured a state bid as the region’s number three team.
LaGrange wrapped up the third spot with Wednesday’s 9-0 blowout win over Hardaway.
LaGrange finished with a 4-2 region record, and it placed third place behind Columbus and Northside.
LaGrange will be on the road next week to play the number two seed from Region 4-AAAAA.
In Wednesday’s game, the Lady Grangers got off to a strong start, scoring seven goals in the first half.
“Hardaway’s not bad. That was a good opponent for us,” LaGrange coach Andy Fritchley said. “What we did well tonight was we started well. We got two goals about eight minutes into it and just really got rolling.”
Eva Hutton had the hat trick for LaGrange with three goals, and Reagan Peters and Maddie Patton added two goals apiece.
Hayley Brazell had one goal, and goal keeper Sara Kate Doerr even got into the scoring column.
LaGrange was awarded a penalty kick, and Fritchley called on Doerr to take it, so the senior raced down the field and knocked the ball into the net.
Peters, who earlied this week signed a letter of intent to play soccer at Kennesaw State, had five assists to go along with her two goals.
Patton added two assists, and Katelyn Peters had one assist.
LaGrange outshot Hardaway 25-5, and Doerr only had to make one save.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports