ROCKINGHAM — It’s been a while since Richmond Senior girls soccer coach Bennie Howard has had 12 returning players with varsity experience.
This is what he will have this year.
“We will have to reload,” Howard said. “I have some experience coming back and I think we are going to have a strong 11. With the girls coming off the bench, we will be two or three deep, then those other girls will have to grow up quick.”
Even though the Raiders lost all-conference selections Brittany Hudson and Brittany Roberts to graduation, Howard’s lineup will still feature two other honorees in Lashonda York and Hanna Rodriquez.
Howard expects to plug Brittni Faurot into Roberts’ spot as goalkeeper and Alexie Coble into Hudson’s old position at center midfield.
“Brittni has been with the team the last two years as a goalie but hasn’t played because of injuries,” Howard said. “She had a broken hand one year and an injured foot in the other. She doesn’t have any game experience.
“Alexie played travel ball up in the Southern Pines and has grown in maturity and in skill level. She has big shoes to fill. Even though she’s a freshman, she plays as a sophomore.”
Howard added he was pleased because several of players were active in the Southeastern Academy in Laurinburg this winter. He is hoping “it will pay off for us.”
After finishing with an 8-13-2 mark last year and a berth in the state 4A playoffs, Howard believes this season’s team will again be in the hunt for the postseason.
“Pinecrest and Lumberton will probably be at the top,” Howard said. “I think we will be in the middle of the pack with Scotland and Hoke as usual.
“I’m going to be optimist and we will show up for the 20 matches and see what happens. The girls are looking forward to the challenge.”
Richmond will kickoff its season 6 p.m. today when Union Pines visits Raider Stadium.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.