LaGrange Coach Shane Pulliam’s Sea Turtles soccer team impressed this summer as they took state 3×3 tournaments by storm. Despite being new to 3×3 games, two Sea Turtles teams powered through their competitions, taking down Atlanta United squads in the process. Now, the Sea Turtles, who finished first nationally in their age group, have accepted a bid to play for a national title in Memphis, Tennessee from November 24-25.
Pulliam, who coaches LaGrange High boys soccer team as well as AFC Lightning Troup club soccer, commended the Sea Turtles’ achievement.
“We are very excited to be representing not just our AFC Lightning Troup club and LHS boys soccer, but LaGrange as well as we train now to bring home the national championship,” he said.
While impressive, the Sea Turtles have a few roadblocks to overcome on their journey to play for a national title.
“Before our last practice, they hadn’t played 3×3 since June,” Pulliam said of his team Monday. The Sea Turtles were unable to field enough players to play in their final 3×3 tournaments this summer and had abbreviated playing time earlier this season.
Now the players who remained active through AFC Lightning Club soccer must adapt to the 3×3 game once more.
Three-by-three soccer presents its own brand of unique challenges by forcing players to focus on their skill and technique. With only three players from a team allowed on the field at one time, athletes must play more cleanly, quickly, and efficiently to have success.
With the tournament more than a month away, the Sea Turtles have time to build on their previous success and cultivate a national-championship caliber team.
Pulliam, who has coached national- title- winning teams in the past, is optimistic about his team’s chance this year, but has an even better outlook for the future.
“A lot of our guys on the team are young,” he said. “They’re already competing for the national championship this year, meaning we would compete and possibly win the title for the next three years.”
“It’s exciting for us,” he added.
Sea Turtles competing in the national tournament this year include: Ander Gay (sophomore), Tripp Hollstrom (freshman), Noah Whipple (freshman), Miller DeVane (freshman), Jack Devane (junior), and Griffin Sanchez (junior). The players have been successful in other areas of AFC Lightning Troup soccer this season as well and look to contribute to the LaGrange High boys soccer team later this school year. Pulliam, who took over the LaGrange boys soccer program last year, led the team to the second round of the state playoffs after coaching his team to double their offensive production over the previous season.
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