After the first four soccer matches in mid March, Will Kulick told his Rappahannock County High School girls varsity players this:
“Right now,” he said, “we are undefeated.”
Those are words that the Panthers rarely hear, but a 3-0-1 start to the 2010 season could not happened at a better time to the school’s program.
“Everything that we are doing now is preparing us for (the Bull Run) district,” said Kulick, who teaches science at Rappahannock County Elementary School. “These girls are working hard, and they can become a good team. Right now, there’s some team bonding going on, too.”
Rappahannock County’s girls’ soccer program has had its struggles over the past several seasons. Frequent coaching changes. Disagreements between coaches and players. Injuries that left the Panthers shorthanded in game situations.
Kulick, who was a two-time captain on a Madison County High School team that went to the Group A state tournament his senior year, does not promise that all the program’s ills will disappear immediately.
But his positive attitude toward the players and the game did help to produce those early wins.
“I keep telling the girls that we should look at ourselves as the underdog,” said Kulick, who credits his younger sister, Ann, with getting him interested in coaching at the high school level.
Ann Kulick was an assistant coach to the girls’ varsity program three years ago before leaving to teach in Northern Virginia.
“People don’t know what to expect from us,” Kulick added, “but I want them to remember us. I’m looking to surprise some teams this spring.”
The Panthers should field one of the youngest teams in the Bull Run District, with freshman Lauren Light starting in goal. Kulick said that he is trying to teach Light “the finer points” of being a keeper. She is a quick study and does a solid job in the net.
The defense includes freshman Danielle Boutte on the left side, junior Tiffany Wayland and Jessica Boutte in the middle and junior Laurel Rothrock on the right.
In the middle, Kulick will put junior Danika Kritter in the center. She and fellow junior Sarah Wheatley will share “the job of running my midfield.” Junior Katie Hartman is on the right side, while sophomore Haley Hogan is on the left.
The front line includes junior Joslyn Smith, sophomore Bryn Sonnett and senior Brooke Hatcher.
Kulick also looks for junior Brittany Stephens and sophomore Katie Hale to play often on defense, while sophomore Caitlin Humbles, who is nursing an ankle injury, will be in the midfield.