With soccer season here, questions have been raised whether the Lady Wildcats can equal up to last season’s record-breaking success.
Leslie McConnell graduated and moved on to the University of Georgia. Emily Gahl graduated, and, most recently, Cara Hasilrig moved out of the area. In other words, the three brightest stars from last season are gone.
Enter newcomer Laura Nunnery.
Nunnery has an impressive track record in both the Atlanta club circuit and her girls soccer top ten ranked almamater, Salem High School in Conyers (a suburb of Atlanta). The Salem Lady Seminoles made it to the third round of the Region 4-A championships. She was a key factor in their success with a personal scoring record of 34 goals in 61 games.
"She has played soccer since she was 4," said her mother, Jan Melcher. "We noticed early on that she had a knack for athletics, and she hasn’t slowed down since."
Nunnery has a decorated past in offense that points to her being very capable of bulking up the scoreboard in favor of the Lady Wildcats this coming season. Her sophomore year at Salem, she was the highest team scorer. In 2005, she was awarded most valuable offense. In 2006, She was deemed most valuable midfielder.
Girls soccer coach Heather Richardson coached her not only at the high school level, but also at the club level since she was in the Under-12 league. "It’s been wonderful seeing her grow into the fantastic player that she is today," said Richardson. "We hated to see her leave Salem as she is an irreplaceable player. She was one of our lead scorers, and she's got a lot of speed. One of the things I'll always remember about her ability to finish strong in important situations. It was Laura that made the key plays to give us a victory over the school's rival team."
Having recently moved to Richmond Hill, Nunnery’s arrival couldn’t have come at a better time. Although head coach Steve Kollman was confident in his current roster’s ability to shine, Nunning’s arrival is an undeniable tool to take them to the top.
Before the season has even begun, Nunnery is already touting a soccer scholarship that North Georgia College and State University has sought her out for. She signed a letter of intent on Feb. 7 in the media center of RHHS.
With practice underway, Coach Kollman is noticeably excited about his new addition. "After watching about three minutes of a drill she did at the first practice, I could already tell she played club ball in Atlanta. I could already tell that she was, skill level wise, equal to or better than most of the girls on the team."
"She’s a great addition," Kollman continued, "It’s the perfect year to have someone like her walk in. Otherwise, we would’ve won a lot of games by only a narrow margin. Laura is a very aggressive soccer player."
Kollman expressed that his roster for last year, this year and next year is "upper classman laden" that he is not forced to "teach soccer to", giving him the flexibility to aim his practices toward a more strategic and progressive manner.
"We’ve got that core group of 8-10 players that have been playing together through the rec department and beyond," Kollman continued. "And Laura fits right into that. She is a very mature player and a great young kid."
Laura also is a talented tennis player with numerous tournament victories under her belt. With the seasons coinciding, she chose to pursue soccer instead. Her brother chose the opposite, and is an accomplished tennis player who recently joined the University of North Carolina on a tennis scholarship.
In addition to pursuing her soccer playing with North Georgia, Nunnery plans on studying political science and mass media communications in hopes of pursuing a career in either law or broadcast journalism.