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Lady Wildcats to host Houston County

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POSTED: April 29, 2013 12:50 p.m.

When it comes to girls’ soccer, few prep programs have had sustained success like Richmond Hill High School.
The Lady Wildcats have been to the state playoffs the last 13 seasons, and they don’t make it a one-and-done visit, either.
“Our program has come to pride itself on being one of the top 15 programs in our class each and every year,” RHHS coach Steve Kollman said. “Our season isn’t a success unless we make the second round of the state playoffs, the top 15, and it’s an excellent season when we make the state quarterfinal’s or better.”
The 2013 team will get its chance to make a postseason run of its own on at 5 p.m. Tuesday when the Lady Wildcats (12-3-2) play host to Houston County (13-2) in the opening round of the state Class AAAAA playoffs.
Kollman said his team’s dozen wins may “seem like a drop-off from years past,” but noted the Lady Wildcats pushed powerhouse Hilton Head High, the defending South Carolina state champs, to the wire before falling, 2-0, and tied both St. Vincent’s Academy, long a state girls’ power, and highly-regarded Burns (N.C.) High, one of the Tar Heel state’s top girls’ programs.
Richmond Hill also led rival and No. 8 Glynn Academy in the team’s first Region 3-AAAAA matchup before falling, 2-1.  
“All in all, the only thing this team lacks is a signature win,” Kollman said. “Hopefully, we can get that in the next two weeks. We have our work cut out for us, as Class AAAAA has more quality teams on the women’s side than any other classification.”
What’s more, this season has been something of a work in progress.
“When we started the season, we knew that figuring out how to score goals would be paramount for our success,” Kollman said. “We graduated two strikers last season, had one sit out with a torn ACL from the club season and had one move to North Carolina. So we had to find a system that fit our players and allowed their talents to be used for scoring.”
Enter seniors Lisa Bausum and Kayla Taylor, who combined for 16 assists and 27 goals while also giving younger players time to adjust.
“They stepped up in the first half of the season to take charge of the striker position. They were our offensive leaders in both assists and goals,” Kollman said. “This allowed our younger, less-experienced players time to grow into the system.”
In addition, seniors Kaitlynn Martinson and Marzjan Mustfa and sophomore Casey Qua “all had the best seasons of their careers by becoming more aggressive offensive players from the mid-field,” their coach said.
Even defensive players got into the act. Sarah Mazur, a senior, and junior Savannah Beecher generated offense from the back line through aggressive midfield play.
And by limiting opponents to 0.78 goals per game and posting 11 shutouts, keeper Caroline Smith “had another stellar season,” Kollman noted.
All of which could mean the Lady Wildcats are primed to make more noise at the state level in a sport traditionally dominated by teams from metro-Atlanta. That’s the idea, anyway.
“The goal for us is always the same,” Kollman said. “Make the playoffs and host as many games as possible, then work hard to get to the final eight or better.”
But it won’t easy against a school that has a habit of scoring goals. The Lady Bears scored in double digits six times this season, just missed putting up 10 goals in another contest while going over the five-goal mark in five other games. They’re averaging slightly over seven goals a match.
“Houston County will be a quality test for us and I am glad we’re at home, on a field we are comfortable on,” Kollman said. “They score goals and have held a couple of very good teams to close losses. I would expect them to be physical and give our girls all they can handle.”


 

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