ROCKINGHAM — For the second straight year, the Richmond Senior girls soccer team placed five athletes on the All-Southeastern Conference team.
Senior captains Tatyana Gould and Cassie McFayden and junior Altman Griffin all earned a selection for the second time in their careers. Both Gould and McFayden were named All-SEC last season, while Griffin was recognized following her freshman year.
The other two Lady Raiders who joined them were sophomore Jayana Nicholson and freshman Avy Lucero.
“This is the second year in a row that we’ve won more than we lost compared to the last 10 years — it’s a credit to those young ladies. And even to the ones who didn’t make all-conference or were very close,” coach Bennie Howard said. “They work hard, they’re diligent and they practice hard.”
McFayden improved over the offseason and ended up leading Richmond in goals (30) and points (63). She netted five hat tricks on the season, including the season-best five goals she scored in a win at Purnell Swett.
Gould, who won the co-Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2016, finished with 116 saves in 20 games played — which averaged out to 5.8 saves per game. Howard has continued to speak on how much Gould has meant to the program over the last four years.
“Tat is a unique young lady who kept us in games with great saves and just did a fantastic job honing her skills as a goalkeeper,” Howard added.
Griffin and Lucero each scored six goals on the year, which was tied for the fourth best on the team.
Howard said Griffin, who also finished with three assists, will be “a force to reckon with” when she returns for her season campaign. Lucero had an impact during her inaugural year with the program, as she became the team’s “PK specialist” thanks to her ability to take advantage of penalty kicks.
Nicholson wasn’t too far behind, finishing with four goals and two assists in her first full year on the varsity team. The energy and hustle that she brought to the team, Howard believes, may have been more valuable than the goals she scored.
“If I only had one pick (for all-conference), it would have to be Jay. It wasn’t about her scoring goals or her assists, she just gave it her all every minute when she was on that field,” Howard said. “I wish everyone could play with that kind of energy.”
Both Pinecrest and Lumberton had six players from their respective programs make the 2017 all-conference team.
Pinecrest’s Keeley Cooper won SEC Player of the Year, while her head coach Corey Rice was named SEC Coach of the Year. The Lady Patriots also placed Molly Niewald, Taryn Speer, Paige Tolentino, Carly Veit and McKenzie Wagler on the All-SEC team.
Lumberton’s selections to the all-conference squad included Morgan Miller, Hannah Monteiro, Taylor Raines, Madison Sirmans, Brooke Taylor and Harley Wilkerson.
Purnell Swett would place three in Layla Locklear, Abigail Lowery and Madison Oxendine. Both Hoke County (Iyana Jones, Donajha Wyatt) and Scotland (Emma Gray Beacham, Beatrice Eddy) had two athletes represent their respective programs.
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Richmond Senior’s Jayana Nicholson was one of five Lady Raiders named to the 2017 All-Southeastern Conference team. Nicholson finished her sophomore season with four goals and two assists.
Avy Lucero was also selected to the all-conference team. She finished her freshman year with six goals, which tied for fourth best on the team.