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Lady Raiders headed to Nationals
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The Raiders after a second place victory in Savannah. Seen here are (from left) Coach Muhammad Mustafa, Katlyn Taylor, Marzjan Mustafa, Raechal Blitchington, Kayla Taylor and Baley Jackson.

The Richmond Hill Lady Raiders, Coach Mohammed Mustafa’s 12 and under girls soccer team, have seen much success this summer. Their many victories have earned them a berth into the upcoming national competition in Orlando.

The team formed this past December and immediately began experiencing success. That month, they won a tournament in Jekyll Island. To start 2007, they nabbed another first place tournament victory in Hilton Head. They took a break when school started back, and seemed to have picked up where they left off for their summer season.

On June 9 and 10, the Raiders entered the Kick-it 3v3 Soccer Shootout tournament in Orange Park, Florida and won third place.

On June 23, the Raiders entered the Summer Sizzler tournament in Savannah. The top finishers in this event would qualify for the Nationals in Orlando later this month. The girls received third place medals and a berth to the National tournament.

This past weekend, they were at it again as the girls returned to Jekyll Island where they nabbed second place in the Jekyll Island Summer Soccer Blast tournament.

The team is on the 3v3 level which entails a maximum team capacity of 6 players with only 3 players allowed on the field at a time. Each game of tournament play is completed in less than 30 minutes and focuses on accuracy of goal shooting and foot skills. This form of competition is widely considered to be a strong prep method for regular season play.

"It focuses on both individual skills and teamwork," said Coach Mustafa. "It demands a lot out of each player and it is incredibly high-paced. The player must be in top condition, and I’ve seen a great amount of improvement from these girls."

Mustafa added that all of the girls recently tried out for the Select team in Savannah and all made the cut, which entails them going on to "play the top teams in the state."

He attributes this accomplishment in part to 3v3 participation. He also said it will help them as they look to regular season play at RHMS and eventually RHHS and even college ball.

RHHS head soccer coach Steve Kollman reiterated this fact and said Mustafa and his rec soccer programs play a strong part in why the RHMS and RHHS programs are so successful. Kollman has known Mohammed since 2000 through coaching with him in the RHRA soccer programs from U-6 and clinics at the middle school level.

"I love working with Mohammed and watching him coach these girls," said Kollman. "He truly loves the game of soccer and is driven to touch the lives of each of the girls on his teams. He produces skilled, competitive players, but more importantly instills the team focused concepts that makes good high school athletes into great ones."

"In the past seven years, the Richmond Hill soccer community has enjoyed an unprecedented level of participation, as well as, a growing, positive image statewide under the direction of Mohammed Mustafa," Kollman continued. "Soccer in our community can trace its success to Mr. Mustafa’s implementation of a layered cognitive development approach to practices and games where the focus is not on athletics alone. This program has led to a high number of both boys and girls staying in RHRA soccer programs year around through the middle school years. His leadership is a major component of the successful formula that allows our high school teams to be successful at the state level each year."

Coincidentally, the U-12 boys Raiders team, coached by Mohammed’s son and RHHS-turned-Mercer University soccer star Adel Mustafa, have also earned a berth into the Nationals. We will feature them in an upcoming issue. Both teams will be headed to Disney’s Wide World of Sports on July 27 to compete against teams from all over the U.S.

In order to help raise the funds, the boys and girls Richmond Hill Raiders will be having a joint fundraiser at the family sports pub Beef ‘O’ Brady’s this Saturday from 4-10 p.m. To help the teams get to Orlando, simply dine at the restaurant after 4 p.m. as 15 percent of the evening’s food and soft drink sales will go to the teams.

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