The Perry on top: Karley Perry puts on a show as the Grangers beat Perry to advance to the AAAA state quarterfinals

Published 10:50 pm Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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The LaGrange girls soccer team booked a spot in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2017 by routing previously undefeated Perry 6-1.

“The girls had to show a lot of grit and really fight for it,” LaGrange coach Jon Callahan said. “When you looked at this matchup on paper, it wasn’t even close. They averaged seven or eight goals a game and only let up two all year, and we hung six on them. That is really special, and we can build on this.”

It was a total team effort for LaGrange, who carved up the Perry defense throughout the game. The Grangers scored the first two goals of the match in the first half, and Karley Perry was at the center of both of them. She scored the first before teeing up Sam Cottle with a perfect pass to give the Grangers a 2-0 lead. 

“The adrenaline was really rushing tonight,” Perry said. “Our fans came out and were very loud, and I was able to thrive off of it.”

That lead would not last as the Panthers struck back with a sensational free kick goal just minutes away from halftime. LaGrange weathered the storm and came out of the break firing on all cylinders. Perry was everywhere for the Grangers in the second half as well, scoring the first goal of the half and adding another on a perfectly placed header late in the half to put LaGrange up 5-1.

“She’s fantastic,” Callahan said. “She doesn’t just run straight at the goalkeeper, she draws out the center backs and sets up tap-in goals. I love seeing her and Sam (Cottle) play together.”

Cottle grabbed a second goal from the penalty spot in the second half when Reese Humphries was chopped down in the opponents’ box. Humphries went out with an injury but returned to the pitch and scored an absolutely stunning solo goal for the Grangers’ sixth of the evening. She dropped her shoulder and shimmied her way past three Perry defenders to put the ball in the back of the net with just under 10 minutes to play to put a stamp on the victory. 

Humphries also had an assist in the game when she delivered a beautiful corner kick into the box, and Perry latched onto it with her head. Cottle and Gabi Martinez also finished the game with an assist apiece. 

The Grangers have been true road warriors this season with 14 of their 20 games coming away from home including the two playoff games.

“It is a little further of a trip than what we are typically used to, but we are used to playing on the road,” Callahan said. “We can rely on each other and have really built up that trust between players by spending so much time together.”

LaGrange is now 11-9 overall and is battle tested heading into the AAAA state quarterfinals. The Grangers will travel to take on 2021 4A state champions North Oconee, who beat Pace Academy 2-0 in the round of 16, on Monday. The Grangers lost to North Oconee in the round of 16 last year 8-0 and are looking to improve on that performance. 

“I wanted this one, we wanted this one really bad,” Callahan said. “Now, we get to go and play North Oconee again and while it didn’t go our way last year, I’m hoping we can show how much we’ve improved.”