High School Soccer
East Coweta unable to catch up to unbeaten Lady Rams
by Doug Gorman
OGANVILLE—It took two days to play 80 minutes of soccer, but when it was over top-ranked and undefeated Grayson managed to spoil East Coweta’s first ever trip to the Class AAAAAA State Semifinals with a 4-3 victory in a suspended game that was concluded on Thursday.
The Lady Indians ended their season with a 15-6-1 record, while Grayson moves on to play Harrison in a battle of unbeatens in Saturday championship game at Kennesaw State.
East Coweta refused to go down without a fight. The Lady Rams earned their closest victory for the first time since March 14, a 5-4 win over Parkview. Since that time, Grayson (21-0-1) had outscored opponents 77-5 over a span of 13 victories.
The Lady Indians, who captured this year’s Area 3-AAAAAA championship, went unranked while advancing to the semifinals following playoff wins over Colquitt County, Hillgrove and Centennial, the latter effort by scoring four times in the final 23 minutes to advance to the Final Four.
Against Grayson, they stayed within a two-goal deficit, pulling to within one for a final time early in the second half.
East Coweta senior Ren Waters took a pass from Ashton Rohrschneider and drilled it past Grayson goalkeeper Cadye Picklesimer in the 69th minute of the match for the last score of the game.
For a time, it looked like the ending of the game might follow Saturday’s script against Centennial, but despite some last minute shots, the Lady Indians ran out of magic against Grayson.
“These girls never quit,” said East Coweta head coach Chris Luppens. “We were up against a really good team, my girls battled the whole game.”
The final chapter to East Coweta’s season was written over two days, starting Wednesday when two powerful thunderstorms forced the postponement of the game with the Lady Rams leading 3-2 with just 1:09 left in the first half.
The Lady Rams opened with control of the ball when the contest resumed on Thursday and got a shot off prior to a quick break for halftime.
Three minutes into the second half, Grayson connected on its final goal of the game when Chelsea Norton took a pass from Brittany Bennett to put her team up 4-2.
East Coweta used both of its goalies against the Lady Rams. Freshman Sam Hoffman started in goal and played on both nights before sophomore Kellsey Weaver came on midway through the second half and also turned away several shots.
The loss ended the varsity careers of Nikki Brandley, Waters, Anna Lauzon, and Katie Sutherland. Lauzon, a starting center midfielder, was limited in the semifinals due to an injury.
“These girls have been here all four years,” Luppens said. “They helped put us on the map. The expectations have really risen with this program.”
The Lady Indians kept firing away during the last few minutes of the game, getting shots from Morgan Haase and Haley Roberts.
Wednesday’s first stoppage came at the 13 minute mark of the contest with the game tied at 1-1.
After a delay of nearly 90 of waiting for the lighting to move out of the area, the action resumed with the Lady Rams scoring twice and the Lady Indians cutting the lead to one right before the half when another intense storm moved through the Loganville area.
This time, the officiating crew didn’t wait around, sending everybody home, but confused.
It was first announced the game would have to start over since the first half wasn’t compete.
After reviewing Georgia High School Association bylaws, the game picked up with 1:09 left in the first half.
Neither team found out about the rule until early Thursday morning.
“It really didn’t really affect us too much,” Luppens said. “We both had to prepare for basically one half of soccer.”
Both teams opened the game scoring quickly on Wednesday. Grayson took a 1-0 lead when Ella Stevens converted a penalty kicks after a handball in the box was called against East Coweta.
Less than two minutes later, East Coweta struck back when Lynnsey Danford converted a shot for the Lady Indians to tie the game a 1-1.
Danford’s score came right after a corner kick from Waters kept the ball near the goal for the Lady Indians.
Danford came up big throughout the playoffs for the Lady Indians, scoring the game winner Saturday just to send the Lady Indians to their first Final Four.
After the first delay, both teams found success.
Jennifer Westendorf connected twice for the Lady Rams and Rohrschneider added the final goal right for the Lady Indians right before Wednesday’s final weather stoppage.
Lady Rams 4, Lady Indians 3
East Coweta 2 1—3
Grayson 3 1—4
Goals — East Coweta: Lynnsey Danford, Ashton Rohrschneider, Ren Waters; Grayson: Jennifer Westendorf 2, Ella Stevens, Chelsea Norton
Goalies — East Coweta: Sam Hoffman, Kellsey Weaver. Grayson: Cadye Picklesimer