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RHHS girls open strong
The Lady Cat soccer team is (back row) assistant coach Jennifer Curry, Kendra Schneider, Katie Berry, Jennifer Adams, Kristen Oddi, Ashlynn Pfab, Gini Russell, Caroline Sipe, Lori Barnes, Caitlyn Uhlig, Lauren Regan, head coach Steve Kollman, (middle row) Allie Mazur, Katie Bergsmith, Lauren Gerber, Raisa Martinez, Brianna Nix, Anna Bausum, Lindsey Vasher, (front row, captains) Azea Mustafa, Lauren Hall and Megan Guarino. Not pictured is Whitney Regan. - photo by Stacey Bergsmith

The Lady Wildcat soccer team is off to a great start. They won three out of four games played within this past week over top quality teams. All signs are pointing to this new formation being able to carry the torch of last year’s record-breaking success despite losing seven graduating starters.

"Our team is developing rapidly into the next state level contender from Richmond Hill," Coach Steve Kollman said. "We have built a tougher early schedule so that young players can learn more rapidly. With the better competition, our new defense and keeper have progressed wonderfully in a short amount of time. If they can continue to get better as we add new schemes and find our player rotations, I believe they can compete against anyone in the state."

Kollman acknowledged that the "we have some developing to do in the front seven. We are much younger in the midfield and forward positions than we have been in many years, but as we are able to practice on our full size field more often, and with senior leadership from Lauren Hall and Azea Mustafa, they will progress with their rotations and reads to become a very efficient unit."

On Feb. 7, the Lady Cats swept Windsor Forest in a 4-0 scrimmage. On Feb.12, they opened the season by defeating Glynn County 3-1. Kollman said two factors came to the forefront during the Glynn game.

"Number one, we had spacing trouble in the mid and forwards due to not being able to practice on the football field because of repair work. Number two, our new look defense, with all new starters, was very good.

On Feb. 13, the Lady Cats beat Savannah Christian 6-0.

"This time, our teamwork gelled early and our defense was again stellar," Kollman said. "The first shutout for a totally rebuilt defense and new keeper. Our mental focus was great and we pretty much accomplished all of our goals for the game."

Feb. 15 saw an impressive 11-0 victory over 4-A Jonesboro, a team from just outside Atlanta. Leading scorers were Lori Barnes with four and Lindsey Vasher with two points.

"We completely overmatched them physically and skill wise," Kollman said. "Second shutout for our new defense and keeper."

On Feb. 16, the Lady Cats got their first taste of defeat in a 1-4 game versus 5-A’s top ranked Lassiter. Vasher got the lone goal for RHHS and keeper Raisa Martinez had 10 saves.

"This was our measuring stick game," Kollman said. "We knew that our flaws would be exposed against a phenomenal team with 20 premier league players and multiple District 1 signees. Stellar defense by Lauren Hall and Azea Mustafa in the midfield along with our entire defensive line. In the end, Lassiter’s overall depth and speed of play were the deciding factor in the game. Lassiter scored on 4 of 14 shots and we made one of 12."

Kollman said he looks for big things from this year’s team and everything is falling into place.

"This team will go as far in the playoffs as their desire and mental focus allows for," Kollman said. "If they continue to work hard in practice and games, they could take their place among the great squads that the rest of the state has come to expect from Richmond Hill; possibly ascending to the heights of last year’s squad by winning 15-plus games."

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