THE RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL girls soccer team captured its second State Class D Champioinship in three years by defeating Ashland 2-1 on Saturday at Hampden Academy. The Bobcats finished the season on a 10-0-2 run. Pictured at top, goalie Sydney Underhill-Tilton hugs coach Troy Kendrick after Saturday’s game. Seniors Destiny Anair, Emily Snowden, and junior Caitlin Kendrick cheer. Pictured above, Bryanne Lancaster boots the ball in early-season action.

THE RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL girls soccer team captured its second State Class D Champioinship in three years by defeating Ashland 2-1 on Saturday at Hampden Academy. The Bobcats finished the season on a 10-0-2 run. Pictured at top, goalie Sydney Underhill-Tilton hugs coach Troy Kendrick after Saturday’s game. Seniors Destiny Anair, Emily Snowden, and junior Caitlin Kendrick cheer. Pictured above, Bryanne Lancaster boots the ball in early-season action.

RICHMOND

 

 

After losing key pieces to graduation, most notably 40- plus goals from Miranda Martin, expectations for the 2017 Richmond High School girls soccer team didn’t seem as high as in years past.

Knowing goals were not going to come easily, head coach Troy Kendrick knew he needed to be creative with his team’s strengths and find the right combinations on the field, both offensively and defensively.

THE RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL girls soccer team poses with the Gold Ball after defeating Ashland, 2-1, in the State Class D Final at Hampden Academy on Saturday.

THE RICHMOND HIGH SCHOOL girls soccer team poses with the Gold Ball after defeating Ashland, 2-1, in the State Class D Final at Hampden Academy on Saturday.

“We learned this past summer that losing Miranda’s goals from last year was going to be big. I think we only had one other person over 10 goals last year, so we needed some of the girls to step it up this year,” said Kendrick. “It was tough at the beginning. We needed to find that formation that would hide our weaknesses and magnify our strengths.”

Early on, the team used 4- 5-1 or 4-3-3 formations to keep four players back on defense, keeping the numbers big at midfield. With the team using a “defense first” mentality, the Bobcats struggled a little out of the gate on the offensive end.

Following a 2-0 loss to Old Orchard Beach in the second game of the season, Kendrick said the team had some “long talks” about what his Bobcats wanted to accomplish and how they were going to go about it.

“We had a tougher schedule to start the season,” said Kendrick. “I think those first six games we not only faced tougher competition, we also were able to get about a half of season’s worth of practices in, and we were still finding ourselves.”

After the OOB loss, the team split its next four games, losing to Class C foes Sacopee Valley and St. Dom’s on the road to stand at 3-3.

It was about that time that Kendrick decided to go to a 5-3-2 or a 4-4-2 formation. Realizing they can’t keep everyone up front for offense, nor in the back for defense, Kendrick knew he needed to keep a balance on both sides of the field.

“We slid Rylie Irish back into defense at center-mid,” said Kendrick. “Between her and Caitlin (Kendrick), we were able to have them defend on one end, and have them up front to score on the other.”

The result — Richmond finished the last eight games of the regular season on a 6- 0-2 run, tying both Rangeley and Old Orchard Beach (0-0). The Bobcats outscored their opponents 27-3 during that run, not allowing a goal in six of those games.

“It took us a while to get to the point where we knew we were a good team,” said Kendrick, who has coached at Richmond for over 30 years now, this being his 29th as the varsity coach. “We really came together team-wise as the season went on.”

Kendrick relied on his seniors, Sydney Underhill- Tilton, Destiny Anair and Emily Snowden, as well as junior captain Caitlin Kendrick to relay the message that they needed to believe in themselves.

“We knew they were capable of competing, but I always tell them, ‘you’ve got to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will,’” said the coach.

As the season wore on, and the first few rounds of the Class D South tournament were played, the team’s confidence continued to build and they appeared to find an offensive niche. In the regional semifinal, final and state final, the Bobcats pushed across six goals. Not by coincidence, all six goals came off cross passes, mostly off the foot from Anair.

“It’s something we worked on all year. Getting the ball crossed to the front of the net and the girls finding their positions to hopefully score off those crosses,” said Kendrick.

Anair put an exclamation point on this notion, by assisting on both goals in the state final, both coming off precise passes off the senior’s foot.

“She does it so well, we rely on her to do those kind of things once we get down the field,” said Kendrick.

After scoring their second goal of the game, Kendrick was a little nervous about his team sitting back on their heels and playing defense.

“We got an early lead, which always throws you for a loop,” said Kendrick. “You wrestle with ‘should we try to get an insurance goal or play defense?”

The Bobcats found the right balance, despite giving up a goal late to Ashland, to seal the victory and win their second state championship in three years.

“This game typified our season. We played stingy defense and opportunistic offense,” said Kendrick. “We wanted to be smart and keep plenty of people behind the ball. I was hoping we could get out of there without giving up that last goal. It would have been a less stressful last few minutes.”

Graduating three seniors this year, the Bobcats will need to replace their leadership and play on the field. With a strong mix of freshmen, sophomores and juniors, the defending state champs will look to got back to the state final in 2018 for the ninth consecutive year, with high expectations continuing for the talented group of soccer players from Richmond.


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