High School Soccer
Lady Indians play underdog role in first trip to state semis
by Doug Gorman
On paper, the East Coweta Lady Indians could find themselves in an uphill battle tonight when they travel to Loganville for a Class AAAAA Final Four soccer showdown with top ranked Grayson.
The Lady Rams (20-0-1) come into the match undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the Class AAAAAA poll, while East Coweta (15-5-1) is entering uncharted waters after earning its first ever trip to the Final Four in girls soccer.
After Saturday's dramatic 4-3 comefrom- behind win over Centennial in the quarterfinals, however, East Coweta is confident it can compete against anybody.
The Lady Indians fell behind by two goals against the Lady Knights, but scored four times over the final 20 minutes, including twice in the last three of regulation to earn a 4-3 victory.
Grayson held on to its undefeated season and No. 1 ranking with a impressive 6-1 offensive performance against Kennesaw Mountain Saturday night.
For a time, it looked like the Lady Indians were headed to overtime, but Lynssey Danford scored the winning goal with under 30 seconds left to send the them into today's Final Four contest.
East Coweta also picked up goals from senior Serenity Waters, junior Morgan Haase and sophomore Ashton Rohrschneider en route to the comeback.
Just a few minutes earlier, the Indians seemed headed for a season-ending loss after Centennial converted a penalty kick with just over five minutes to go before the Lady Indians mounted a comeback with the goals from Rohrschneider and Danford.
Now, the Lady Indians are taking a 'we can beat anybody' approach.
'It is going to come down to who wants it more,' Waters said. 'Some of these other teams may have better stats than us, but we are going to come out and play hard. We are not going to give up until that last second.'
East Coweta head coach Chris Luppens was impressed with the way his team answered the second-half wakeup call after falling behind by two goals at the break.
'We played on our heels in the first half,' he said. 'We turned the corner in the second half. We never gave up. I have always told them to keep fighting.'
Grayson definitely has impressive stats, scoring 127 goals in 21 games and averaging 6 goals a game.
The Lady Rams scored 30 goals in three straight matches during the middle of the season with 10-0 efforts over Berkmar, South Gwinnett and Savannah Country Day last month.
It's only tie of the season came in a 2-2 decision against Flowery Branch back in February in Grayson's fourth game of the year.
The Lady Rams finished with 12 shutouts this season, including six in a row during the middle of the year.
East Coweta has also enjoyed solid goaltending this year, getting 10 shutouts while using both sophomore Kellsey Weaver and freshman Sam Hoffman in the net.
The last-minute win kept careers alive for East Coweta's four senior starters - Nikki Brandley, Waters, midfielder Anna Lauzon and defender Katie Sutherland - alive.
The rest of the East Coweta roster is a blend of juniors, sophomores, and Hoffman as the group's lone freshman.
Grayson's roster is an equal mix led by Senior goaltender Cadye Picklesimer.
Sophomore Amanda Baker has been an offensive catalyst in recent weeks, scoring twice for the Lady Rams in its quarterfinal win over Kennesaw Mountain, including once on a penalty kick. She also added an assist.
Ella Stevens and Jennifer Westenoff were also among the goal scorers in Grayson's Elite 8 win.
Luppens hopes the Lady Indians are starting a new tradition with tonight's first-ever trip to the Final Four.
'It is big to be going to the final four, first time ever,' he said. 'I can't be more proud of our these girls and what they gave accomplished this year.'