Callahan named 4A girls soccer coach of the year, four Grangers named to DiVarsity All-Star team

Published 1:34 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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The LaGrange girls soccer team enjoyed a remarkable 2024 season, making the state quarterfinals and producing one of the best seasons in program history. The season is over, but a few members of the team will get to have one last go on the soccer pitch together this year. Kelsey Burks, Sam Cottle, Karley Perry and Carlee Roland were all named to the 4A DiVarsity All-Star game along with head coach Jon Callahan.

“I submitted my girls and when I checked I just looked at the roster. I didn’t look to any award winners,” Callahan said. “And then (LaGrange boys soccer coach) Shane Pulliam had to text me on Sunday at like 10 in the morning and He was like, ‘Congratulations, coach of the year’ and I was like ‘no way, man, really?’”

For Callahan, individual awards like being named 4A girls coach of the year by DiVarsity are a product of the team that puts in the work.

“The nice thing about it is I think it validates what the girls do and it’s a lot less about me,” Callahan said. “I’ve had exceptional players and the best assistant coaches in the world, so I’ve been really blessed.”

Since Callahan took over heading into the 2021 season, the LaGrange girls soccer program has been a top-10 program in 4A. He helped guide the team to back-to-back Elite Eight appearances in the last two seasons.

One of the main reasons for his and the team’s success has been the strong play of seniors Cottle and Roland. The two served as captains in 2023 and were the heartbeat of the team. 

“I never had to rip kids over stuff because they manage those things for me when things get silly and that was just really special to see,” Callahan said.

Cottle was the team’s main talisman, leading the team with 29 goals while providing 16 assists as well. Roland’s impact on the team is not as easy to define as she did not rack up the same number of statistics playing defense.

“It’s nice with Sam and Karley Perry because you could point to all the goals over there four years or three years or whatever. You can’t point to that with Carlee Roland,” Callahan said. “She has the spirit of a leader and her character is great and she worked hard always and I’m so happy she is getting the chance to play in college.”

Despite playing as a fullback, Roland was still able to score four goals while contributing nine assists. She will be staying close to home, attending and playing soccer at LaGrange College starting in the fall.

Junior Karley Perry enjoyed what will end up being her final season in blue and white in 2023. She will be early enrolling at Georgia State, where she will be playing college soccer, at the end of this year. 

For one final time, Cottle, Roland, Perry and Callahan will share the soccer field.

“Those girls are gonna go on to some very special things in their future. And I know for a fact that they’re not done,” Callahan said. “And yes, there were a lot of tears after the Westminster game, just that journey being over, but their soccer journeys are far from over and I can’t wait to see what they do at the next level.”

This is far from Callahan and Burks’ final run together. Burks, just a sophomore, enjoyed a true breakout season. After starting sporadically as a freshman, Burks nailed down one of the starting center-back roles this season.

“She’s got a bright future ahead of her,” Callahan said. “She’s halfway through this high school thing. And, boy, she is getting very close to being one of the better defenders we’ve seen at this school.”

The four will head to Sprayberry High School on May 18 with kickoff set for 3:15 p.m.