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Houston County stuns RHSS girls
Richmond Hill High School senior striker Lisa Bausum (13) races after the ball late in the second half of the Lady Wildcats 2-1 loss to Houston County in the first round of the girls state Class AAAAA soccer playoffs on Tuesday in Richmond Hill.

Richmond Hill High School doesn’t ordinarily bow out in the first round of the girls’ state Class AAAAA soccer tournament.
But two first-half goals from Liz Upchurch helped Houston County overcome a one-goal deficit Tuesday as the Lady Bears pulled out a 2-1 win over the Lady Wildcats at RHHS.
Micah Kanicki scored the only goal for the Lady Wildcats, who ended the season at 12-4-2 and 12-2 in Region 3-AAAAA.
“Sure, our team is disappointed that we did not make the second round of the state playoffs and get a shot at the state’s No. 1 team and that elusive signature win,” RHHS coach Steve Kollman said. “But, I am proud that this team worked hard to overcome all the problems you encounter during the season to be a competitive group. They are a wonderful group of young ladies to have worked with all year. As players, they were open to new tactical ideas and playing new positions to help us overcome our flaws.”
Kollman said he knew heading into the season the Lady Wildcats would have to fix some things.
“During preseason training, we knew that our team would have to compensate for two problem areas, overall team speed and a lack of a go-to striker,” he said. “In the end, no matter what we did tactically to compensate for those two areas, against quality teams we had trouble handling faster pressure and scoring goals.”
The loss marks the end of the high-school careers for several seniors, including Lisa Bausum, who led the team with 15 goals, and Kayla Tayler, who had a team-high 10 assists.
In all, RHHS outscored opponents 83-16 this year.
Kollman had plenty of praise for his seniors, starting with Bausum, “for becoming our driving force at striker, having never played there before and being the leading goal scorer.”
He also mentioned Taylor, “for learning to play striker, having never played there before and leading our team in assists.”
In addition, senior Kaitlynn Martinson was “the glue that held us together,” and became an offensive force, Kollman said, while Sarah Mazur had a “motor that never stops running,” and provided “leadership on and off the field.”
Kollman also praised Marzjan Mustafa “for her hustle and steady play, she is our player who gets the most out of her abilities,” and Christina Pitts, “for her hustle and calming influence in the middle.”
Underclassmen also received praise from Kollman, now in his 13th year at RHHS.
Casey Qua, Savannah Beecher, Carly Mills and Caroline Smith all drew mention from their coach, from Qua “for raising the level of her game, next year’s player to watch;” to Beecher, “for her aggressive play in the midfield;” to Mills, “for playing whatever position where we had someone missing and never complaining;” and to Smith “for  continuing to improve and be a dominant force in the net.”
Kollman said Richmond Hill learned a few things in its first season in Class AAAAA, especially that “there aren’t any easy ones at the higher levels where you play bigger schools.”
Still, there’s always next season to get ready for at a program which has been among the best in the area for more than a decade and measures its success in the postseason.
“Next season will be interesting, as we will mostly be a new group of starters,” Kollman said. “We will have another seven seniors, but many of them have been role players the last two years. They will get their chance to become dominant on the field.”
The Lady Wildcats also will welcome a number of younger players who will have to grow up quickly and “get used to the faster pace of play and stronger players at the next level,” he said. “I expect our team to again compete for a region championship and be motivated to get back to the state round of the playoffs.”

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