SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Being the defending region and state champions has its perks.
For the Social Circle Lady Redskins soccer team, one of those perks is the exposure to close contests, which is something players on the 2023 squad are no strangers to.
Evidence of that could be found just last Friday when Social Circle scored three goals in the final 15 minutes to down Prince Avenue 3-1.
Amid the scoring drought, sophomore Claire Ray mentioned how she and her teammates leaned heavily on past championship experience.
“Remembering that we can win when we’re losing by so much is really encouraging,” Ray said. “We know we can pick it up at any moment in the game and come back for a win.”
Ray was one of the defenders who helped keep Prince Avenue off the scoreboard after it scored less than 12 minutes into the action. Junior Peyton Brooks, meanwhile, was helping look for answers on offense.
The Lady Redskins have overcome tight contests before.
Ironically, Social Circle endured a vigorous battle to clinch last year’s region title. After dominating nearly all of its Region 8A-Public opponents last season, the Lady Redskins edged out Towns County on the road 4-3 on April 1, 2022.
Almost a year later, Social Circle players and coaches highlighted how last week’s match was reminiscent of the Towns County one.
Head coach Heather Richardson hopes this year’s result will have the same effect as last year’s.
“It was the same situation,” Richardson said. “We fought and fought and fought, and I think it prepared us for the playoffs. Not that I wanted to go through it, but since we came out on top, I’m sure it will help us.”
On top of that, the Lady Redskins battled heavily against Commerce in their 6-4 overtime win in the state championship, too.
Over the last two seasons, Social Circle has fared well in tight games but, according to Brooks, this year’s region championship season means a little more.
“Last year, we were the younger ones, but now we’re the leaders,” Brooks said. “It feels good, especially coming in with a younger team and knowing we can be region champs.”
Social Circle finished undefeated at 6-0 in Region 5A-Division I. Its region schedule began with a 4-2 win at home against Prince Avenue. Then, it swept Jasper County 11-1 and 10-3 along with the season sweep of Oglethorpe County by a combined 13-3.
The Lady Redskins’ regular season isn’t quite over, though.
This week, they will face off against Eastside on Tuesday and Putnam County on Thursday to wrap up the regular season schedule.
Ray mentioned how closing out the 2023 campaign in such a way will only benefit the team heading toward the playoffs.
“I’m looking forward to playing bigger schools, because it’ll get us ready for the playoffs,” Ray said. “If it goes good or bad, it’s going to motivate us to do better.”
However, the Lady Redskins’ hopes are bigger than just this week. They have their eyes set on another deep state playoff run and possibly bringing another state title back to Social Circle.
No matter what the future holds for the rest of this year, Brooks believes their history with highly contested matches has prepared them for the road ahead.
“Knowing we’re region champs will still motivate us,” Brooks said. “We just think back on how hard we need to work to get to the state championship. We need that motivation to keep moving forward.”