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LHS soccer standout headed to Florida

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It was a memorable season for the LaGrange Grangers, who won a region championship and reached the third round of the state soccer tournament for the first time in a decade.

A key to the success the Grangers enjoyed was the performance of senior captain Toni Sosa, who not only excelled on the field, but also provide invaluable leadership.

Sosa’s good work didn’t go unnoticed.

Sosa has signed a letter of intent to join the soccer program at Keiser University in Fort Lauderdale, and he’ll be a member of the team when the season begins this fall.

Sosa celebrated his decision during a signing-day ceremony in the Steve Pardue indoor practice facility last week.

“The work has just begun,” Sosa said. “I know the next level’s going be even harder.”

Shane Pulliam, LaGrange High’s head coach for the past four seasons, appreciates the dedication Sosa showed to the team.

“Toni was on the varsity as a freshman, and he didn’t play a lot,” Pulliam said. “The next year he didn’t play a lot, and then he started, and this year he was a captain. The difference between Toni as a junior and Toni as a senior is night and day. That’s why he’s sitting up here. Something in him flipped a switch, and he decided that I’m going to be better. He started running on his own, training on his own, and he came out and became a leader on our team, was a captain on our team.”

Sosa, Pulliam added, “got better every year because he chose to be better, and chose to be a leader.”

Sosa was an unselfish player who appreciated those around him, something he made clear after LaGrange’s season ended with a loss to East Hall in the third round of the state playoffs.

“We lost, we’re in the locker room. I give the seniors a chance to go around and talk,” Pulliam said. “(Sosa) said, every player on the team matters. Whether you are a starter or not, everybody matters. I wouldn’t be where I was, doing what I do, if it wasn’t for all of you guys. All of you guys helped me make me better as a player. That is the exactly the kind of leadership I expressed to the Keiser coach.”

Sosa, putting it simply, said “everybody has something to offer.”

Sosa is hoping he has plenty to offer to his new school.

“I’m excited,” Sosa said. “I know going into there, it’s a really great program. If I can help them, if I can play, that’s great.”

Eight other student-athletes at LaGrange also announced their college decisions last week, including basketball standout Javon Brown, who has signed with Southeast Community College in Nebraska.

Sosa and Brown have known each other since their elementary-school days, and now they’re both getting the chance to play the sport they love in college.

“We grew up in elementary school together,” Sosa said. “We rode the same bus and everything. Just growing up with him, he always played basketball, and I was the soccer guy. Seeing him sign, it’s cool.”