The play of two-year captain and senior center back Cherish Lowery was one of the reasons the Lady Tigers won Region 5-AAA and went 16-2, and on Wednesday, Lowery signed to attend Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College.
“She was a tenacious defender. She was great on one-on-one plays and she was great off the ball,” Lowery’s position coach, Lee Whitaker said of Lowery. She has the total package of technical skills and, talent-wise she’s going to have a great opportunity to be an asset to whatever program takes her in. As far as any player that I’ve ever coached, she’s right up there with her skill. She’s going to be a big-time player.”
Whitaker believes Lowery will be an instant contributor to ABAC, which is a member of the Georgia Colleges Athletic Association in the NJCAA.
“I think it’s a perfect win-win fit for her. It’s going to be a place where she can go and compete right away,” Whitaker said of Lowery. “I know coach [Jimmy] Ballenger is very excited to have her down there and thinks that she can go there and compete right away.”
Lowery was not expecting to generate interest for her soccer exploits and was planning on pursuing a degree in radiology without continuing her soccer career. However, her play drew the interest of Ballenger and ABAC also offers a strong radiology program.
“They offered and I went down there and I liked the school. It was just a good environment with a lot of opportunities,” Lowery said of ABAC. “I went and visited and met with the coach. He toured us around and I loved the dorms and apartments. It’s quiet down there and I like it.”
In addition to continuing her education, Lowery hopes to make an impact on the soccer team as well.
“I’m excited to see what all is going to happen at ABAC for soccer. I’m going to try really hard this summer, be in the best shape and work on everything so I can do my best,” she said. “I would love to start my freshman year. It’s really hard for freshmen to start, but it is a goal of mine.”
Despite the opportunity to contribute at the college level, it will be difficult for Lowery to replicate her stellar career at Adairsville.
“She was one of our two center fullbacks and she was a major factor in us winning games,” Adairsville head coach David Sexauer said. “We had the best defense we’ve ever assembled and she was a key piece of that. She was on the field nearly every minute making sure it stayed that way.”
Lowery’s impact was on display in the final regular season game against Cartersville. The winner of the game would be crowned as region champion. Adairsville won the game in double overtime, 2-1, after losing to Cartersville earlier in the season by a score of 1-0.
The Lady Tigers’ strategy in the game was centered around its defense, the team’s strength, and to keep the game in striking distance.
“Cartersville is big, fast, strong, well-coached and we were able to put a game plan together, in which [Lowery] was a big part of because it was centered on our strengths,” Sexauer said. “Payback on Cartersville was huge, because they’re a very good team and we have a lot of respect for Cartersville. Having [Lowery] on the field helped us have our formation in place.”
For Lowery, winning the region was validation for years of hard work.
“It has to be my favorite memory and it’s something that we’ve wanted for so long,” she said of winning the region. “It was a goal since the beginning of the season.”
Lowery was a major part of her team’s success throughout her career. She was a striker her freshman year, midfielder her sophomore year and played defense her final two years. She was Adairsville’s player of the game three times during her senior year, including the team’s state playoff game against White County. According to Sexauer, she was a team leader in addition to her strong play on the field.
“I’m most impressed with Cherish because of who she is. She has a high character and she’s been a joy to coach, and I’ve coached her for four years, and she always strived to get better,” Sexauer said. “She is an athlete that has worked well as a team member. She became a two-year captain. She was selected because she cares about her teammates, she’s organized and she is a player that the other players look up to because she sets the example.”