Soccer All-County: Newnan's Gresham, East Coweta's Grant, share Co-MVP honors
By DOUG GORMAN
East Coweta’s Jordan Grant, and Newnan’s Grace Gresham might be rivals on the field, but they also have something in common.
The seniors were two of the best varsity girls soccer players in county this spring.
The two defensive specialists helped lead their respective teams to the second round of the state playoffs.
Grant was part of a defensive unit that shutout 14 opponents. She also showed she could score, finding the back of the net five times and also assisting on three goals.
“She was the heart and soul of our team,” East Coweta head coach Chris Luppens said. “She came back from a knee injury and still played with such determination.”
Grant was one of seven seniors on the team that Luppens will now have to replace.
“The challenge every year when you lose a talented senior is to find somebody who can step up and play like her,” Luppens said. “One of the things that hopefully has rubbed off on our younger players is to play with her same type of passion.”
Gresham was the centerpiece of the Lady Cougars’ defensive unit that only allowed 11 goals all season.
Gresham showed her all-around ability in the team’s 10-0 first-round playoff game against Colquitt, helping the team find the back of the net after she set up a couple of scores off corner kicks. She also helped to shut down the Lady Packers’ chances of moving the ball deep into Newnan’s side of the field with stellar defense.
“Grace is such a smart player back there for us. She rarely makes a mistake,” Newnan head coach Frank Henderson said after the first-round victory.
East Coweta’s season was highlighted by winning the Coweta Cup and also capturing the Region 2-AAAAA title.
The Lady Indians didn’t allow a goal in region play.
East Coweta finished the season with a 15-5 record, including a win against Valdosta in the first-round of the Class AAAAA playoffs. Their season came to an end when they lost to North Gwinnett 5-0.
Newnan ended its season with a 13-4-2 record.
The Lady Cougars rolled past Colquitt 10-0 in the first round of the playoffs, before falling 3-0 to Mill Creek in the second round.
Five other players from East Coweta and Newnan also earned first-team soccer honors.
Northgate placed three players on the first team and The Heritage School added one.
East Coweta sophomore forwards Nikki Brandley and Serenity Waters earned their first team honors for the Lady Indians by showing off some offensive firepower.
Brandley finished the 2012 season with 26 goals and nine assists. Waters had 22 goals and 17 assists.
Midfielder Anna Lauzon showed she could get the ball to her open teammate time and time again, finishing with 18 assists. She also scored eight times for the Lady Indians en route to her first-team honors.
Also earning first-team honors for the Lady Indians were midfielders Carley Craft, and Taylor McDermott. Craft finished with three goals and seven assists. McDermott, the team captain, made the first team with six goals and five assists.
Junior goalie Kristen Jones equally did her part in net, posting 14 shutouts and blanking teams over the entire Region 2-AAAAA schedule.
Newnan’s Jordan Ponce finished with 19 goals and three assists to pace the Lady Cougars and Katelyn Robeson had 16 goals and three assists from their forward spots.
Kate Lawrence, a four-year starter and team captain, was one of the Lady Cougars’ top defenders in 2012. She finished her final season of high school soccer career with five goals and seven assists.
Anna Lawrence also earned first-team honors as one of the Lady Cougars’ top defenders. In addition to helping keep opponents' attempts out of the Lady Cougars’ goal, she also scored five goals and added three assists.
Newnan goalkeeper Rebecca Whitlock was named her team’s MVP with 13 shutouts. She earned first-team honors after giving up just 11 goals. She also stopped 87 of her opponents shots.
Northgate went through some growing pains this year among a roster dominated by freshmen and sophomores. Despite the youth movement and a tough Region 3-AAAA schedule, the Lady Vikings finished 8-7.
The Lady Vikings are represented by Hannah Murray, who earned the Lady Vikings’ MVP honors with 12 goals and Region 3-AAAA honors to earn a spot on the Newnan Times Herald All-County soccer team.
Northgate’s Micayla Crenshaw had 18 goals and seven assists and was named Northgate’s offensive player of the year, while Hayli Verbanic was named to the Newnan Times Herald first team squad after earning her team’s defensive player of the year honors. She was also named to the All Region 3-AAAA team.
Lauren Brandner is the lone first team representative from the Heritage School.
Brander was a three-time all-region selection and a two-time GISA all state selection. The Lady Hawks’ senior was part of the five region championships, two GISA Final Fours and two state runner up finishes.
2012 Newnan Times Herald Girls All-County Soccer Team
Co-Players of the Year
Grace Gresham, Newnan, Sr., Sweeper
Jordan Grant, East Coweta, Sr., Center Midfielder
Lauren Brandner, Heritage School, Sr.
Nikki Brandley, East Coweta, So.
Carley Craft, East Coweta, Sr.
Micayla Crenshaw, Northgate, So.
Kristen Jones, East Coweta, Jr.
Anna Lauzon, East Coweta, So.
Kate Lawrence, Newnan, Sr.
Anna Lawrence Newnan, So.
Hannah Murray, Northgate
Taylor McDermott, East Coweta, Sr.
Jordan Ponce, Newnan, Jr.
Katelyn Robeson, Newnan, Sr.
Hayli Verbanic, Northgate
Ren Waters, East Coweta, So.
Rebecca Whitlock, Newnan, Jr.
Honorable Mention: Northgate — Brittany Deloach, Mattea Lewis; Newnan — Julie Whatley, Lauren Hovey; East Coweta — Katie Sutherland, East Coweta; Hertitage School — Ansley Dieckmann, Megan Gruber.