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What’s next for RH girls lacrosse? More winning

When girls lacrosse gained varsity sports status at Richmond Hill in 2020 the Wildcats hit the ground running and haven’t slowed since.

After having that first season cut short due to COVID – the team was 6-2 at the time of the shutdown – the Wildcats have soared under Coach Megan McDonough posting 12-2 and 13-4 records the last two years including a run to the Elite Eight in the state playoffs last year.

They’ve won the 5A6A Area 7 championship the last two years and are looking to repeat despite a roster predominately made up of sophomores and freshmen. “A three-peat is something we’re definitely gunning for,” McDonough said. “This team possesses all the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. They just need to execute and continue to work.” The Wildcats (3-2, 2-0) play at Hilton Head on Thursday and next Wednesday play Evans at home in the first of three straight area games. After Evans they go to Greenbrier and then host Lakeside on March 14 in a game which could determine the championship.

Richmond Hill is led by senior Katelyn Miller who is coming off a 78-point season and has 24 this season following last Saturday’s 13-6 loss to unbeaten Columbus (4-0). Miller recently signed to play at Belmont- Abbey College.

Other signees on this year’s team are goalie Elizabeth Mehl (Sweet Briar), Regan Martinez (Pfeiffer) and Tatum Williams (Reinhardt). That gives the Wildcats nine signees the last two years as college coaches are already taking notice of the fledgling program.

While eight freshmen and four sophomores dot the roster which also includes five seniors and five juniors the young players for the most part are arriving ready to play thanks to a thriving middle school program and a year-round commitment to the sport.

“The girls are really putting in the work in the off-season,” Mc-Donough said in explaining the team’s quick success. “They’ve joined club teams, done conditioning work in the fall, doing wall ball on their own. They’re staying in shape, communicating and starting younger.

”We’ve got four or five freshmen on the varsity team that have played together from the middle school so when they come here they’re used to seeing one another. You’re building by groups in a sense. Not by individuals but by grades and sets.”

The roster reflects McDonough’s approach to maintaining a solid class structure throughout the program in order to avoid a season where there’s little or limited experience and leadership.

While Miller is the top offensive threat junior Ella Pursley, sophomore Avery Washington and freshman Allison Bouton are all more than capable scorers as is junior Nia Woodworth.

Bouton is an excellent example of the freshmen coming in expecting to play and do well right away.

“She’s been battling injuries but she’s out there gunslinging as much as the others,” McDonough said. “It’s fascinating to me that when I look at the book, I’ve got nine people who have scored in a game.”

Ava Voight, Liberty Andrews and Svara Patel are three other freshmen, along with Bouton, who are making their presence felt, especially Patel who is a goalie.

“She started and played a whole region game at South Effingham (20-4 win),” McDonough said of Patel. “She was a little nervous at first but she came through…she settled right in.”

In addition to South Effingham, Lakeside, Evans, and Greenbrier other teams in Area 7 are Grovetown and Effingham County. For lacrosse the GHSA has placed teams by areas rather than their normal region assignment.

The Wildcats remaining games: March 2: at Hilton Head, 7 p.m.; 8: Evans*, 5:30 p.m.; 10: at Greenbrier*, 6 p.m.; 14: Lakeside*, 5 p.m.; 23: May River, 7 p.m.; 28: Savannah Christian, 5:30; 30: Effingham County*, 5:30 p.m. April 14: Savannah Christian, 5 p.m.; 18: at Effingham County, 5:30 p.m.; 20: at Porter-Gaud, 5 p.m.

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