Photo by Roxane Reed
Grainger Today Correspondent
RUTLEDGE – A perfect storm of adversity struck the Grainger High School Lady Grizzly soccer team during the summer and at the beginning of the 2017 soccer season.
The tragic loss of coach Tonya Wear’s brother during the summer wreaked havoc on the summer conditioning and work that had been planned as coach Wear had to deal with the loss and the resulting grief.
Although the Lady Grizzlies had some players coming in who had played soccer since second or third grade, the Lady Grizzlies were plagued by injuries that put nine players out of action. The remaining players stepped up and did their best against the stacked odds.
After a season-opening tie, Grainger lost six matches in a row before getting many of the injured players back and began to turn the tide. One of the big moments in the turnaround was their second regular season match against Union County, who had scored a 6-0 victory over Grainger earlier in the season. In that match, the Lady Grizzlies battled to a 3-2 victory and then continued the momentum by earning a tie with Claiborne, who had also beaten them earlier in the season. That was followed by a pair of wins over Cherokee, which earned a third seed and another match at Union County.
With most of the players recovered from their injuries, the Lady Grizzlies scored an impressive 6-2 victory over the Lady Patriots to reach the district semifinals, with a resulting game at Gibbs. In the first half of that match, Granger played to a scoreless tie before the experience of the Lady Eagles allowed Gibbs to post a 3-0 victory and take the district championship.
The result from that game gave the Lady Grizzlies a berth in the region finals against Catholic, the champions of District 2. Although the Lady Grizzlies gave their best effort and got a goal from Lauren Longmire, Catholic ended Grainger’s season with a 10-1 victory.
However, the adversity of this season had made a strong impression on the Lady Grizzlies, and they have learned to give their all in each match. As a result of their strong finish, freshmen Lauren Longmire and Matty Tanner were named to the All-District first team along with sophomore Abby Young. In addition, freshman Laura Short, who had never played soccer before this year, stepped up when the other girls were injured. As a result of her play, Short was named as the district Rookie of the Year.
That means that next season the Lady Grizzlies will have two sophomore all-district selections, one junior all-district selection and a sophomore who was selected as the district Rookie of the Year.
With this good foundation and the continued coaching of Tonya Wear and her husband Troy, the future of Grainger girls soccer is bright.