There are not many schools in the area that take soccer as serious as Heritage, nor are there many in the area as profound as the Patriots' soccer program, hence the Patriots' impressive booster club. But when the season is not going as planned, everyone involved in the program starts to worry.
In the midst of their region schedule, there has been a bump in the road for the Lady Patriots of Heritage. After starting off the season 2-0 in Region 8-AAAAA, Heritage has lost its last three region games against Gainesville, Lanier and culminating with a 4-2 loss to Loganville on Tuesday evening.
"We have played ourselves into a tough situation," Heritage Head Coach Chad Suddeth said. "That's our third region loss and we're battling for our playoff lives."
Against Loganville, Heritage didn't necessarily play a bad game. The effort was there, but the opportunities that were given to them weren't converted. Offensively in the first half, they put themselves in position to score many times by making beautiful crosses and pushing the ball past the defense, but they just couldn't get the ball in the net. Defensively, they gave those same chances to Loganville and the Lady Red Devils seemed to control the game more.
In the second half, the game opened up for both teams as Loganville scored first and Heritage quickly responded and took a 2-1 lead. But, the Lady Patriots defense could not stop Kat Klingensmith as she scored all four goals for Loganville. It wasn't just Klingensmith. Loganville constantly pressured Heritage defenders and could have put up more points if it wasn't for a few impressive saves by Heritage goalkeeper, Kylie Kersh.
"I thought we left some goals out there if we convert those it might have been a different outcome," Suddeth said. "I was pretty proud of the effort obviously disappointed with the result. "
The major issue that Heritage can fix is having better control of the ball. Opposing defenses pressure their forwards and forced them into untimely strikes and errant passes. If they can have better composure when dribbling the ball and find teammates with accurate passes, Heritage can benefit both offensively and defensively because they will get better shots on goal and their defenders won't get pressured as much if the offense in possession of the ball more.
Coming off a 2014 campaign where they went (8-0) in region play, the Lady Patriots are definitely not reaching the expectation they set for themselves. With just four seniors, this team does have its fair share of young players and as time passes those players will evolve their game into what Suddeth needs them to be for his team to be successful. Currently, Heritage is in fifth place in their region behind the three teams they lost too and a team they beat, Apalachee. Suddeth now has to find a way to motivate his team, and get them on the right track.
"We understand the situation we played ourselves in too," Suddeth vocalized. "Bottom line, it is gut check time."