By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Girls Soccer Player of the Year: Flowery Branch's Cassidy Elrod
Georgia Southern signee a steady force for the Lady Falcons
0617GirlsPlayer1
2012 Flowery Branch High graduate Cassidy Elrod is The Times Girls Soccer Player of the Year. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Boys Soccer Player of the Year: Gainesville's Aidan Reising

Girls Soccer Coach of the Year: Gainesville's Mark Wade

Boys Soccer Coach of the Year: East Hall's Chris Horton

First Team Girls All-Area

Liza Carpenter
School: Gainesville
Grade: Senior
Position: Midfield
Stats: 15 goals, 18 assists, first-team Region 8-AAA, team captain

Hartley Carter
School: Gainesville
Grade: Junior
Position: Forward
Stats: 31 goals, 6 assists, first-team Region 8-AAA

Mary Catherine Dempsey
School: Gainesville
Grade: Junior
Position: M/D
Stats: 4 goals, 6 assists, 1st team 8-AAA

Lauren Dunn
School: Flowery Branch
Grade: Senior
Position: Goalkeeper
Stats: 6 goals allowed, 1st team 8-AAAA

Cassidy Elrod
School: Flowery Branch
Grade: Senior
Position: Forward
Stats: 27 goals, 17 assists, 8-AAAA Player of the Year

Morgan Huber
School: Dawson County
Grade: Senior
Position: Defender
Stats: 1st team 8-AA, Divarsity AA Female PoY, 15 shutouts

Bethany Johnson
School: Johnson
Grade: Senior
Position: M/D
Stats: 7 goals, 12 assists, all-region, will play at Gwinnett College

Alexis Rebollar
School: Chestatee
Grade: Junior
Position: M/F
Stats: 19 goals, 5 assists, 1st team 8-AAA

Brooke Reed
School: West Hall
Grade: Senior
Position: Defender
Stats: 1st Team 8-AAA, committed to play at Truett-McConnell

Emily Stowers
School: Dawson County
Grade: Senior
Position: Defender
Stats: 1st team 8-AA, Divarsity All Star, 2-time team MVP, 15 shutouts

Lindsey White
School: Buford
Grade: Senior
Position: Forward
Stats: 26 goals (10 in state playoffs), 5 assists, signed with Lander

Second Team Girls

Sydney Baird
School: Jackson County
Grade: Junior
Position: Midfield
Stats: 14 goals, 30 assists

Brittany Duffy
School: Dawson County
Grade: Junior
Position: Midfield
Stats: 11 goals, 8 assists

Morgan Glenn
School: Flowery Branch
Grade: Senior
Position: Defender
Stats: 2nd team 8-AAAA

Caitlin Hollis
School: Buford
Grade: Senior
Position: Goalkeeper
Stats: 9 shutouts, 2 goals allowed, Georgia All Star

Rachel Kline
School: West Hall
Grade: Senior
Position: Midfield
Stats: 10 goals, 15 assists

Alex Lawson
School: North Hall
Grade: Junior
Position: Forward
Stats: 9 goals, 4 assists, 1st team 8-AAA

Alex Lee
School: Flowery Branch
Grade: Junior
Position: Defender
Stats: 8 assists

Yesseli Nunez
School: Gainesville
Grade: Junior
Position: Defender
Stats: 7 team shutouts, 2nd team 8-AAA

Katie Phillips
School: Jackson County
Grade: Sophomore
Position: Forward
Stats: 32 goals, 15 assists

Kasey Tauber
School: Lumpkin County
Grade: Junior
Position: Midfield
Stats: 13 goals

Jessi Vaverka
School: Buford
Grade: Sophomore
Position: Defender
Stats: 2 goals, 3 assists

Honorable mentions

Natalie Allen, Sr., Gainesville
Sarah Beth Anderson, Sr., Lumpkin Co.
Ashlyn Antnip, Fr., Lumpkin County
Tristian Bailey, So., North Hall
Taylor Bennett, Fr., Dawson County
Carolyn Carreno, Sr., Jefferson
Tatiana Castillo, Sr., East Hall
Savannah Castles, Jr., White County
Catherine Chambers, Jr., Gainesville
Ceely Coker, So., Buford
Brooke Duffy, So., Dawson County
Sadie Foote, Fr., Chestatee
Shannon Grossman, Sr., Chestatee
Haley Foster, Sr., Lumpkin County
Alyssa Hall, Jr., West Hall
Megan Kirk, Jr., Flowery Branch
Carly Kenny, So., Lakeview
Stephanie Lamm, So., Jefferson
Sidney Morrow, Jr, Gainesville
Shannon Mundy, Sr., West Hall
Tiara Olson, So., White County
Celia Penado, Sr., Gainesville
Tania Perez, Sr., West Hall
Jade Perry, Jr., Dawson County
Cashen Philyaw, Sr., Flowery Branch
Alden Powell, So., North Hall
Kayla Robles, Jr., Flowery Branch
Bertha Rondan, Sr., East Hall
Mckay Shively, Fr., Dawson County
Alex Smith, Sr., West Hall
Melanie Smith, So., Chestatee
Jessi Stephens, So., Chestatee
Rebecca Webster, Sr., Gainesville
Katie Zottnick, Sr., Lakeview

Cassidy Elrod was never one to take a play off, even if she was in excruciating pain. Her soccer coach at Flowery Branch High, Katie Scali, said that her senior captain’s competitive streak is what made her stand out, as well as the outstanding numbers.

“Cassidy does not like to lose,” Scali said. “It doesn’t matter what we were doing.

“It could be sprints in practice, she wants to win.”

And win she did.

Elrod was the driving force behind the Lady Falcons’ (17-2) repeat as Region 8-AAAA championship this season, posting team highs in goals (27) and assists (17).

For her efforts, Elrod is The Times’ Girls Soccer Player of the Year.

“I think my competitive streak comes from my mom,” Elrod said. “She’s very competitive and always pushing me to do better.”

Elrod, a Georgia Southern University signee, was a standout her entire career, putting in 89 goals and 25 assists in her time at Flowery Branch.

She had to work especially hard to put together such an illustrious career, considering it started with some significant injuries her freshman season. That was Scali’s first sign of how tough of a player Elrod would become and what a valuable team leader she would be.

Elrod’s first injury took place on a collision with a keeper, resulting in what was later determined to be a fractured growth plate in her hip. At the time of the injury, she kept running, thinking she could overcome the pain.

However, she found out that only made it worse. By overcompensating and getting back on the pitch too soon, she said it resulted in an identical injury on the other side.

But she wasn’t going to let any amount of pain derail her love for soccer. After a few months of physical therapy to strengthen her leg muscles, she was good to go.

Around the same time, she also realized that soccer was going to be the path she wanted to travel to earn a Division-I college scholarship, a goal she first crafted in her mind at age 5.

“At that time, I wanted to go to the University of Georgia, because it was the only Division-I school I’d heard of at that point.”

She gave up basketball in the ninth grade to play soccer exclusively, which meant taking up lots of travel and club soccer leagues and showcases.

Scali describes Elrod’s development as a player that never stopped improving and trying to help the entire team max out its potential. Elrod was already a great scorer by the time she reached her senior year, so, in her final year, she took on the challenge of trying to be great at spotting other open players for goals.

“We had three or four other players on the team that were able to finish near double digits in goals,” Scali said.

Looking for assists is unselfish, and Elrod says it was easy with so many other talented players for the Lady Falcons, who ran off a 13-game winning streak to open the season.

“This year, everyone on our team had the skills to play at a high level,” Elrod said. “We didn’t have any weak links on the team.”

Flowery Branch’s coach was also constantly impressed with Elrod’s creativity when taking shots.

“She could place shots so well,” Scali said. “She could loop it and have it go into the corner of the net.

And, according to the coach, Elrod was always willing to work harder than anyone else.

“Cassidy has the desire and talent to be the best,” Scali added.

As Elrod started to develop later in her high school career, she also made more contacts with college programs.

She first met with then first-year Georgia Southern coach Lindsey Vanderspiegel as a junior and was sold on the direction of the program.

“I took a lot of visits to Georgia Southern, and the coach is very personable,” Elrod said. “The coach has had to rebuild some and is bringing in a lot of new girls next year.”

Regional events