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Newton girls eye return to playoffs
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Newton girls' soccer coach Nilesh Patel has plenty of teaching to do in his third season as the Rams coach.
With just five seniors on a roster of 20, there are plenty of players breaking into the varsity lineup for the first time. And in Newton's first two games, it has shown.

The Rams have been outscored a combined 17-0 in games at Dacula and against Eastside.

Beginning in net, the Rams feature Anna Grace Ellis, in her first year as the starting keeper.

"Everybody is learning everything," Patel said.

That extends to right in front of Ellis, where freshmen Precious Buddington and Abigail Bugg are two of the Rams four defenders.

"We were making some errors (against Eastside on Wednesday), and in first game against Dacula. But you have to remember this is a young defense."

Senior Monica Nga Nga and junior Shantel Stenett fill out the rest of the defense in Patel's 4-3-3 formation.

The midfield is the most established of areas for a team that finished 3-4 in Region 2-AAAAA a year ago. Two seniors anchor the middle of the field in Tiana Payne and Jennifer Tran. Teaming with them is junior Toni Barrett.

Up front is a completely new lineup of forwards Lacy Bracket (10th grade), Danielle Stabile (11th) and Sophie Boschan (10th). The trio has yet to find its grove,
getting shut out in its previous two games.

"We've had a couple of good shots hit the goal post but we couldn't score," Patel said. "Hopefully we can get it together by our first region game."

That game will come at Luella on March 6. Patel is hoping that the Rams can reach the 2-AAAAA playoffs, and at least get back to the 4-3 region mark of two years ago.

"We're hoping to at least go 4-3 again, and make the playoffs," Patel.