Lady Cavaliers look for more state success
Published 12:58 pm Tuesday, May 1, 2018
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’ve been here before.
A year ago, the Callaway girls’ soccer team won the first state-playoff game in the history of the program before falling short in round two.
Flash forward a year, and once again the Lady Cavaliers are in the second round of the playoffs, and this time they’re hoping to hang around for a bit longer.
To make that a reality, Callaway will have to find a way to beat a strong Model team on its home turf.
The game will be a part of a doubleheader featuring the teams from the two schools.
The girls’ game will be at 5 p.m., with the boys’ game to follow at 7 p.m.
Callaway is led by a group of seniors who have accomplished a great during their time at the school.
One of those seniors, Naomi Ozley, said the fact that the players get along so well is a key to the team’s success.
“A lot of us hang out more outside of school, and that helps a lot in soccer,” Ozley said. “We get a lot closer, because that helps us in the field. We work together like family.”
It’s a senior group that includes two players in Kelly Carlisle (Point University) and Chloe McGuffin (LaGrange College) who will play college soccer down the road.
Carlisle is the team’s leading scorer, and she’s had as many as five goals in a game.
McGuffin is among the team’s top scorers, and she had four goals in last week’s playoff win over South Atlanta.
Among the other seniors is Marlowe Van Sant, a multi-year starter at goal keeper.
She fell into the goal-keeper position because of an unfamiliarity with the sport.
“I played softball for seven years, and I showed up and I thought, I don’t know what to do with my feet,” Van Sant said. “But I can catch. My best friend was a goal keeper, so she taught me how to goal keep.”
Naomi Ozley, Addie Pruett, Aiyanna White, Abbie Gholston, Anna Bullington, Amiya McCurty and Amiya Gates are the remaining seniors on the roster, and they’re all major contributors on a team that’s among the last 16 standing in Class AA.
“After this year, we’re obviously going to be rebuilding,” Callaway head coach Shonna Yawn said. “Losing the whole field is not ideal. Those players who have contributed a lot.”
Yawn is proud of the progress each of the seniors has made, including Amiya McCurty, who has excelled at a wing position.
“She started out JV. This year she’s gone full-time (varsity) at the wing position,” Yawn said. “You can see the determination and the heart that she has. She’s done well at her position. I could not be more proud of her.”
Yawn said Addie Pruett, whose two older sisters also played soccer at Callaway, has made tremendous strides as well.
“She’s shown so much growth this season being in that midfield position,” Yawn said. “She’s really started to lock it down.”
Pruett grew up around the Callaway soccer program because of her family’s involvement.
While her two sisters were players, her mother Pam was an active volunteer.
“My mom did so much for the team,” Addie Pruett said. “Before we had a concession stand, she would run it out of the back of her car, and I would help her run it.
“I was excited to be in the eighth grade and be able to come out and be on the JV.”
While the talent is clearly there, Ozley said the close-knit nature of the seniors is a key to the team’s success.
“I feel like if we were the same exact team but not as close as we are, we would not have made it this far,” she said. “It wouldn’t have been as much fun. Fun is what makes us stick together.”
As for today’s game, no matter what happens, Pruett said the players will stay together.
“We try to stick to what we say,” she said. “Before and after every game, we say we are one.”