Wildcat Soccer: Richmond Hill Boys and Girls Soccer Faces Transition with New Roster and High Hopes

By Nathan Domintz/Special to Prep Sports Report | February 20, 2024

Share This Story

Richmond Hill Boys Preview

Richmond Hill Wildcats Ready to Run with New Faces and High Hopes

After Richmond Hill reached the 2023 state quarterfinal boys soccer playoffs in Class 7A, the GHSA’s largest division, it might be difficult to expect anyone to be surprised by the Wildcats this season.

But there’s always the context of new roster, and RHHS graduated 13 seniors from the squad that went 12-5-1 last season, 6-2 in Region 1-7A.

“I have only six players (back) who played on my varsity last year,” Richmond Hill’s third-year coach Stephen Peterson said at the inaugural Optim Orthopedics/Prep Sports Report Soccer Media Day on Feb. 3.

The Wildcats also lost standout Sebastian Gough, whom Peterson said is spending his senior year with an Argentina professional soccer club’s youth academy team. Gough recorded 11 goals and seven assists his junior season, ranking second on the squad in both categories.

Standouts who exited after their senior seasons include Tyler Diesman (20 goals, seven assists), Evan Wiebold (eight goals, 13 assists), Jacob Sanchez (123 steals), Giovanni Amaini (81 steals) and goalkeeper Kyle Diesman (1.063 goals-against average, 9.2 saves per game, four shutouts in 13 appearances).

Seniors accounted for 54 of the 73 goals scored last year.

“A big surprise is everybody thinks we’re not going to be as good because we lost 14 people from last year,” said Nick Krull, a junior right back. “But we have so many good players that are rising to the occasion. We’re definitely a team to look out for.”

Krull said a team strength is how well this roster plays together, communicating well and moving the ball in space.

Peterson sees improvement on the defensive side and in being on the same page with their pass sequences.

“I think our defense is looking pretty strong, and our striker position,” said senior Owen Baum, a center attacking midfielder. “I think the midfield needs a little bit of work. … I believe we use the width (of the field) pretty well.”

Baum noted that the Wildcats lost a lot of players to graduation, “but we have a lot of people stepping up. One person I would look for would be Cooper Allen, our striker. Even though he didn’t play as much last year, I still think even last year he was one of the most dominant players on the team.”

Peterson calls Allen, who netted three goals in nine games as a sophomore in 2023, “a very creative striker.”

The road in the state playoffs in 2023 went through Atlanta. The Wildcats knocked off visiting Carrollton and host Brookwood by identical 3-2 scores before falling to eventual Class 7A state champion Lambert 2-0 in the quarterfinals.

“It’s very different when you get to the Atlanta area, a very different caliber,” Peterson said.

It’s a new year and a new edition of the Wildcats, but the goals remain the same: win region and then win state.


Richmond Hill Girls Preview

Richmond Hill Lady Wildcats' Unconventional Bonding Sets the Stage for Success

The Richmond Hill girls soccer squad went to eat at a restaurant together to help with team bonding before the season.

That could have been enough, but they didn’t stop there. Third-year head coach Kelly Anderson assigned varsity and junior varsity players to compete in a scavenger hunt around campus using a smart phone app. The tasks or challenges varied, like singing to a stranger or doing “YMCA” song poses, recorded in videos or photos as proof and submitted to their coach.

“It was things to get the girls out of their comfort zone so they were comfortable to talk. Some of the girls are too quiet on the field,” Anderson said at the inaugural Optim Orthopedics/Prep Sports Report Soccer Media Day on Feb. 3.

“It’s more how can we get them to be a family? How can we get them to all trust each other, do silly things? I would never see Kate (Clark) singing a Taylor Swift song to a stranger ever, and now I can’t stop her.”

Clark, a junior who plays center attacking midfielder, says Swift’s “Cruel Summer” was the first song she thought of to sing. Clark said she’s not a singer.

“Definitely not,” she said. “It was fun.”

That’s one of the points, to make it fun. Also, to get the girls thinking outside of the box, Anderson said.

“They were getting creative,” Anderson said. “That’s what I want them to do on the field. Everything in that scavenger hunt I will relate to back on the field. How we had to make changes. If you can’t find something or do a certain task, how do you get around that and figure out a creative way to be able to do it?”

The Wildcats are different this season with only one senior on the squad. Among the standouts who graduated are forward Kayla Jackson (15 goals, 14 assists), midfielder Ella Mahaffey (three goals, four assists) and defender Karli Eubanks. The 2023 team had 13 shutouts in 16 games, allowing a total of eight goals.

That squad went undefeated in the regular season, winning Region 1-7A at 8-0 and then two playoff games, 7-0 over Westlake and 1-0 over Brookwood. Eventual GHSA Class 7A state champion Denmark shut out RHHS 4-0 in the quarterfinals as the Wildcats finished 15-1.

There is plenty of talent returning. Forward Ella Peterson collected 12 goals and 11 assists last season as a freshman, while Clark had five goals and nine assists.

“I think our strengths are most of our players play club together, so we know how we play. We have good chemistry,” Peterson said. “I think one of our weaknesses is adapting to new positions. We have players playing out of position.”

Clark noted the team has only one senior, but “our team is very good at all of us being leaders in our own ways.”

Anderson said that while the squad has skilled individuals, they will have to learn to work as a team.

“Our challenges would be coming together and playing with chemistry,” Anderson said, “and linking those technical skills and making the players play more as a family and make it more natural rather than forced.”

The search for team bonding might have been helped through a scavenger hunt.


PHOTO Credit: Optim Orthopedics marketing Department

FOLLOW the Prep Sports Report on Twitter @PrepSav and Instagram savannahsportsreport. If you have any scores, information, or story ideas to share, please email

Optim Orthopedics is a well-known name in Savannah's high school sports community, providing crucial medical support to local high schools. Prep Sports Report basketball coverage is presented by Optim Orthopedics.   They have dedicated fellowship-trained Orthopedics Surgeons, including Dr. David Sedory for Benedictine Military, Bradwell Institute, and Liberty County, Dr. David Palmer for Calvary Day, Richmond Hill, and South Effingham, and Dr. Thomas Alexander for Savannah Country Day and St. Vincent's. Optim Orthopedics's commitment to local athletes runs deep. They are proud sponsors of the Prep Sports Report, whose motto is, "Optim Orthopedics gets you back into the game


You May Like

The "Coach" Karl DeMasi has been teaching and coaching for the past 35 years on all levels of academia and athletics. One of his hobbies has been writing, announcing and talking about sports. DeMasi has been involved in the Savannah Area sports scene since 1995, and he created the high school magazine "The Prep Sports Report" in 2000. In 2010, the "Coach" started broadcasting The Karl DeMasi Sports Report. He's still going strong, broadcasting on Facebook live and Twitter live every Saturday morning. You gotta love it!

The Latest News