Richmond Hill’s girls soccer team was looking to make school history when it hosted Riverwood Tuesday night at Wildcats Stadium. The Wildcats were seeking to become the first girls team to reach the Final Four in the GHSA Class 6A state playoffs. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be as the Raiders scored two first half goals and made them stand up for a 2-0 win.
Coach Dorothy Biron’s team dominated play everywhere on the field except for the place it counts the most: the scoreboard.
The loss brought to an end an outstanding season which saw the Wildcats post 11 shutouts enroute to a 13-4 season that earned them a No. 2 seed going into the state playoffs. Riverside (11-8-3), a No. 4 seed, now moves on to face the Houston County (15-0-1)-Johns Creek (17-1) winner for a berth in the state championship game.
“I’m proud of them,” Biron said of her team. “To get to host an Elite 8 game is a credit to them and the season they had. That’s huge.
“This (losing) is a humbling feeling,” Biron said, “but I told them they’ll have to take it in stride and see what they’ve gained from it.
“I feel so badly for the girls because they have worked so hard since last October. This is a team team. They may have lost tonight but they gained a lot.”
Ariana Page, one of four seniors who were playing their last game, took the loss especially hard and acknowledged she will miss her teammates.
“This is the best team I’ve played on in a long time,” said Page who has played varsity since ninth grade. “We played well but we let them get two goals that were preventable.”
The Wildcats were a young team with nine juniors, eight sophomores and a freshman on the roster but Page the nucleus is there for another strong season next year.
“They’re going to be a young team but they can make it as far as we did if they want it,” Page said.
Richmond Hill baseball and track are now the only Wildcats spring sports teams still standing as boys and girls tennis and lacrosse teams all bowed out in the first round of the state playoffs. Golf did not make it out of the sectional as Lee County and Glynn Academy advanced to the state tournament.
A bright spot for Wildcats golf was Grant Mahaffey who shared co-medalist honors with Lee County’s Brantley Baker in the Area 1-6A sectional tournament held at Jekyll Island’s Pine Lakes course with a two-under par 70 to qualify for the state tournament to be held May 12-18 at Carrollton’s Sunset Hills Country Club.
Richmond Hill boys and girls dominated the Region 2-6A track meet and will be looking to advance several athletes in Saturday’s sectional tournament at Johns Creek High School. Top eight finishers advance to the state meet.
Coach Scott Strickland said his team’s scheduled Wednesday doubleheader at Houston County, ranked fourth in the state, may be pushed back a day due to adverse weather which is expected to sweep through the Macon-Warner Robins area on Wednesday.
Richmond Hill (1714) stunned favored Evans last week, 12-1 and 16-1, to advance to the Sweet 16. Two wins over the Bears would put the Wildcats in the Elite 8 for only the second time in school history.
The Wildcats’ record is deceptive as they had a strong second half after starting 5-10. However, after the big wins over Evans the element of surprise is gone.
“In some ways we might have been better off if we had won by one run,” Strickland said. “That caught their attention.”
The Wildcats had 22 hits in the wins over Evans with the second game going only four innings due to the mercy rule. Richmond Hill’s top five hitters combined to go 18-for-31 with five walks.
Leighton Finley led the attack with a 6-8 night that produced five RBI. Luke Boone had four hits and four RBI in five trips to the plate.