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Wildcats fare well in abbreviated Shootout
Richmond Hill High School soccer player Kaitlin Bergsmith makes a power play as Coach Steve Kollman looks on during last week's Wildcat Shootout tournament. - photo by Stacey Bergsmith

The annual Wildcat Shootout soccer tournament was cut short this year due to three straight days of rain. The event, which included 10 schools, did include three days of play with the Richmond Hill teams playing two games each. The Lady Wildcats beat Savannah Arts 4-0 and Effingham 1-0. The boys had two ties with 1-1 versus Savannah Arts and 1-1 against Effingham.

"It’s unfortunate that the weather didn’t cooperate with the tournament," girls coach Steve Kollman said. "We considered make-up games on the weekend, but all that rain made a big mud pile and an unsafe playing field for the kids."

As for the games they did play, Kollman said it is a very positive reflection of what is to come as the region games draw closer. In the Savannah Arts game, Katie Berry scored two points while Lindsey Vasher and Allie Mazur had one point each. Lauren Hall scored the lone goal versus Effingham.

"I think we’ve already accomplished a lot of our goals here at this early stage of the season. In the Shootout, we played quality games. Savannah Arts had a lot of quality players, but our girls in the back dominated. We were a little flat coming in against Effingham, but we got an early goal to give us the win. We only played our starters in half that game though – instead deciding to give the younger girls some playing time so we could evaluate them."

Kollman said he was pleased with the performance of those younger players and "our future looks good. I could see that we have six good players for JV and back-up which is reassuring because we lose four starters this year after losing so many from last year."

As for the boys, Coach Wade Wright said he also played a lot of JV players – which he didn’t have a choice to do as the team was hit with a string of "flu, illness and injuries." That being a fact, Wright said he was very impressed with the fact that the young players dodged defeat while "controlled the play of both games." Steven Guarino scored the lone points for each game.

"We dominated play; we just couldn’t score," Wright said. "I’m extremely optimistic about the season after watching these young kids at the shootout. It’s amazing how things work out because of things that happen beyond my control. Because of the forced absences, it let us find JV players that could certainly add to us make a run at region and even state. My biggest concern going in the season was if the team was going to have some depth. This tournament has helped ease that fear."

Wright said Wildcats Jay Sipe and Zach Denney shined "as anticipated", and that JV players Scott Gordon and Melvin Neeley "stepped up and showed me something. They proved they could play at varsity pace and became tougher players in the process."

Wright said the team’s 1-3-2 record is not indicative of the team’s talent as the Cats have thus far faced "are some of the top teams in their respective regions and will probably all make it to state. I am just so ready to play a game with my full 11 starters; I haven’t done that yet due to injuries and illness. My thing is, as long as we keep improving, we’ll be ready to win a lot of games come time for the region schedule in March."

Next up for the teams is a home game Friday versus Wayne County, 5 p.m. start for the girls with the boys game to start at 7 p.m.

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