Both the boys and girls Richmond Hill High School soccer teams competed in the second round of the state playoffs this week. Both came up on the losing end as the soccer season in Richmond Hill came to a close.
Instead of remorse for not advancing further, the Wildcat teams and coaches are rejoicing over the fact that both teams beat the odds and had highly successful seasons. Both teams had lost a large amount of graduating starters and this season was supposed to be a "rebuilding year" due to the surplus of young players. Perhaps this year’s success it is a testament to the Richmond Hill soccer program. It is definitely a ray of hope for next year as, due to their youth, most players will be coming back next year – with more experience under their belt.
On Tuesday, April 29, the boys lost to LaGrange 3-1. The one goal the Cats did score was a thing of beauty as, in the first half, Nic Harris passed the ball to Sam Vernon who spun around and kicked the ball into the goal immediately upon contact.
"This was a great game for those who came out," Coach Wade Wright said. "They saw the number ten team in state and the number twelve team in state play a high level and intense game, and it was fun to part of. We played a little too timid early and allowed LaGrange to gain control. They played their physical game well, and it took awhile for us to gain control. I was really proud of how hard our guys played. The school and community can be proud for what they accomplished. After graduating 11 seniors from last year, how about putting eight new starters into a lineup and winning your sub region and region? Then we make the sweet 16 in the state playoffs before losing to a top 10 team in the state and a perennial state contender. We may have lost this round, but this group has won something the program can rest it's hat on for next year: respect. This is the team I am proudest of over the last 21 years of coaching."
The girls lost 3-1 in double overtime to Columbus the following day in a game that Coach Steve Kollman said was "so evenly matched it was scary."
Lauren Hall scored the lone goal on a penalty in the first half. Keeper Raisa Martinez had 6 saves.
"They went in ranked number six and we were ranked number eight," Kollman said. "The game lived up to its billing. They controlled 36 minutes, and we controlled 34 minutes. They had 12 shots on goal, and we had 10. Their keeper had four saves, and ours had six. They hit the crossbar in the first overtime; we hit the left post in the second overtime. The contest was so close that it would have been too bad for it not to end in penalty kicks."
Kollman said he is extremely proud of the Lady Cats this year.
"For a reloading year, this was just phenomenal," he said. "Looking back at the beginning of the season, I wrote down the best and worst case scenarios for where this season would go and it definitely hit the high end of any expectations. Whenever you have young players, it’s a growing process. There were some early growing pains, but this group stayed positive through it all. I’ve got 12 top girls coming back and I’ll say it right here that we should win the region championship next year."