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Heritage soccer getting defensive
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The way the Heritage girls' soccer team has been playing, one opportunity is all that is needed.

That's exactly what happened Tuesday night as the Patriots defeated Parkview 1-0.

Heritage senior Arielle Gunderson stole the ball in midfield, and blasted a shot from 25 yards out for game's lone goal.

"I kept preaching to the girls, ‘all it's going to take against quality teams is one chance,'" Heritage coach Chad Suddeth said.

That has been especially true in Heritage's first three games, as the Patriots have had shutouts in each one.

In the opener, Heritage beat Grayson 1-0 and followed it up with a 3-0 win over South Gwinnett on Feb. 17.

"I'm real pleased with the way we started so early in the year," Suddeth said. "We put some good halves together and the girls have been put into the fire the first couple of weeks."

The key has been the Patriots' defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Carter.

In front of Carter is the defensive lineup of seniors Kate Reach and Lena Killingsworth, and sophomores Abbie Dunlop and Ray Brown.

"Defense is always our first priority and we're lucky enough to have some great players back there every year," Suddeth said. "That's really where we hang our hat."

Reach and Killingsworth have provided veteran leadership in Heritage's final third, while Brown and Dunlop have been enthusiastic newcomers to the starting lineup. Dunlop played in other positions as a freshman and has matured well into her second season.

"We moved her to the back four on a permanent basis," Suddeth said. "She's a go-getter, she's real strong with the ball and a natural tackle winner. She's done real well for us."

Newcomers to the Patriots lineup are found throughout the field, with freshman Kaylee Wells in the midfield. Wells is part of a three-girl midfield with seniors Gunderson, committed to Florida and Laura Zawadzki.

The Patriots three forwards provide plenty of firepower, leading off with the Clayton State committed Courtney Hodges. Hodges was a first team All-region selection in 2011, and is the Patriots leading returning goal scorer.

"She's our most dangerous attacking threat," Suddeth said. "I'm expecting more big numbers from her."

Allie Silvee, who started as a freshman last season, and Courtney Kelly fill out the other two forward positions.

The Patriots played at cross-town rival Rockdale Friday night, in a game which finished after press time.