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RHHS keeper signs with USC-B
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Richmond Hill High School girls soccer coach Steve Kollman, left, introduces on Tuesday senior keeper Caroline Smith, seated, shortly before she signed to play soccer at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. - photo by Jeff Whitte

Some things are apparently meant to be.

Steve Kollman said the first time he met Caroline Smith, it was shortly after the 2011 soccer season was over. The then-freshman Smith told him she’d be playing for him next season.

“She came up to me and said ‘Coach, I’m going to be your goalkeeper next season and for the next three seasons,’” said Kollman, head girls soccer coach at Richmond Hill High School. “And she did, and she has been.”

Fast forward three years, and Smith became the latest in a long line of players from Kollman’s program to make it to the next level, after she signed Tuesday signed to play soccer at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort during a short ceremony at the RHHS media center.

Surrounded by family and coaches, Smith got a bit emotional as she thanked her parents, John and Christy Smith, and her teammates for their support.

“I want to thank my family for all the long drives, and my teammates because … this is something I really didn’t expect to happen to me,” she said. “So thank y’all for your support and the extra hours and time you gave to me.”

Kollman said USC-Beaufort is getting a good one.

“Caroline works hard to get better,” he said. “And she’s really a great kid, a high performer in school — she gets academic honors, takes AP classes and is in lots of clubs like the National Honor Society, and she’s one our senior captains. She also comes from a great southern Georgia family with a lot of support.”

Smith told reporters she chose USC-B because of its proximity and because she fit in there after getting an opportunity to practice with the team — and it’s good to be close to home.

The 17-year-old said she’s been playing soccer for about six years and at one point gave it up for tennis, but returned as a sophomore because she missed the camaraderie.

“I missed being on a team,” she said. “There’s nothing like the bond you have between the girls on the field, and I missed that the most.”

Smith, who correctly forecast her role on the Lady Wildcats three seasons ago, now believes the 6-1 Lady Wildcats could be in store for something big in 2014.

“This is definitely a very competitive team,” Smith said. “There’s just a different attitude as a team. If there’s any team from Richmond Hill that’s going to go the farthest, I think it’s this one.”

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