Even with the illnesses and injuries that Rappahannock County High School varsity girls soccer team has suffered this spring, head coach Will Kulick remains optimistic.
“It’s some good players that we lost or got sick, and we’ve had to have girls play out of position,” he said. “But the girls can see that hard work does pay off, and we’re getting better.”
The Panthers (1-3 in the Group A Bull Run District, 4-5-1 overall) had to make some lineup changes to compensate for the illnesses and injuries. Juniors Brittany Stephens and Jessica Boutte have leg injuries that have put them on the sidelines indefinitely. Stephens suffered a knee injury in a collision, while Boutte twisted her knee while running.
Sophomore Caitlin Humbles started the season with an injured ankle, got well and then re-injured the same ankle. Freshman Lauren Light and junior Katie Hartman left different games because of illness.
Realizing that numbers were slow, Kulick and assistant coach Royce Rollins chose to consolidate the program by dissolving the junior varsity squad. A majority of the freshman on that junior varsity team filled in roster spots at the varsity level, while those middle school players were moved to the Junior Panther program.
“We knew we were tight on numbers to begin with,” Kulick added, “and it’s not fair to put the girls out there without help or a break during the game. It’s also dangerous.”
One of the highlights of the Panthers’ season was a 2-1 win over district rival Strasburg. Rappahannock County scored once in the first half off a Danika Kritter penalty kick. Bryn Sonnett was fouled on a breakaway that set up the Kritter kick.
In the second half, Sonnett scored off an assist from Joslyn Smith.
“It was a good win for the girls,” Kulick said. “They can see that their hard work pays off.”
The win over Strasburg took some of the sting out of the 8-0 loss that the Panthers suffered to George Mason and a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Manassas Park.
Kulick believes that his Panthers can rebound and put up a few more wins this spring.
“Against Manassas Park, we were even with them,” he added. “We had more opportunities, but we didn’t finish our shots. Finishing is something we have been working on.”