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Wildcats soccer advances to Sweet 16
RH Soccer2
Richmond Hill's Roman Alvarez protects the ball against three Houston County defenders during the Wildcats' 5-2 win at home Wednesday night. - photo by Ted O'Neil

The Richmond Hill boys’ and girls’ soccer teams both advanced to the Sweet 16 Wednesday night with convincing first-round wins in the state tournament.

The girls won 4-0 at Valdosta while the boys posted a 5-2 win over Houston County at home.

The girls got a hat trick from Grace Kiser, while Ellie Filamonczuk added a goal and an assist. Carly Vargas also had an assist and Belle Martinez made one save in goal.

“It was a comfortable game for us,” Coach Rusty Heintz said. “We dominated possession of the ball and had a lot of scoring opportunities.”

The Wildcats, the No. 3 seed in Region 2-AAAAAA, play Tuesday at Lakeside, the No. 1 seed in Region 3-AAAAAA. Richmond Hill is now 9-8-1.

The boys’ team also got a hat trick from Joseph Petrino, including two goals that he actually scored. His first goal came less than 10 minutes into the game on an assist from Matthew Minning to give Richmond Hill a 1-0 lead.

A goal by Michael Hoffman, assisted by Agboade Sobowale, gave Richmond Hill a 2-0 lead with 18 minutes left in the first half.

“That’s what we were preaching at practice, to set the tempo early,” Coach Robbie Flanders said. “When you get a team down 2-0 early, it makes them play slower because they have to think more.”

Houston County did manage a goal with 12:41 to play in the first half, making it a 2-1 game, but Trever Blitchington put in a header off a free kick five minutes later, giving the Wildcats a 3-1 lead.

Petrino was credited with another goal shortly before halftime when Houston County’s goalie misplayed a ball that had been directed back to him by his own teammate. Petrino received credit for the score, which gave Richmond Hill a 4-1 lead heading into the half, because he was the closest Wildcat player to the ball at the time.

Petrino made it 5-1 with 16 minutes left in the game on an assist from Sobowale, and Houston County scored on a penalty kick with 3:30 left for the final goal of the game.

A goal by Marco Michelini with 20 minutes left in the game was disallowed for off-sides, and two other shots by Petrino narrowly missed.

“We did a good job of setting the expectations for the game and making them adjust to us,” Flanders said.

The Wildcats, 12-4-3, will next face Grovetown, the No. 4 seed in Region 3-AAAAAA. Grovetown upset Jonesboro, the No. 1 seed in Region 4-AAAAAA. Richmond Hill is the No. 2 seed in Region 2-AAAAAA. The game will be at Wildcat Stadium, although a time has not yet been determined.

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