Locker room energy fuels soccer’s success
The GC women’s soccer team started their season out scorching hot through the first seven games with a 5-1-1 record.
The team won their first five games and held all five of those opponents scoreless. Their recent draw came Sept. 14 after they trailed Lander for most of the game, until Amanda Bartholomew scored a late goal to tie it up.
Not only have the Bobcats been winning, but they have dominated in spectacular fashion. Their goal differential is plus-7 and they have only allowed three goals this season.
Much of this defensive success can be attributed to the outstanding goal keeping of Ashlee Graham. Graham is a junior from Decatur and the Bobcat’s starting goalkeeper. She leads the Peach Belt in saves, goals against, save percentage and goals-against percentage.
Graham attributes her personal success to her team’s defensive abilities.
“Defensively as a back line we’ve picked up a year of experience with each other, and that has developed great chemistry and communication,” Graham said. “As a team, we always emphasize getting a shutout as one of our main goals for each game, which definitely motivates us to play well.”
The goal scoring and offensive aspect of the game is led by Amanda Bartholomew, a redshirt junior from Peachtree City and one of the Bobcat’s forwards. Bartholomew leads the team’s offense in goals and assists.
“I have been successful because of the work I put into my off-season training, as well as the preparation my teammates put in,” Bartholomew said. “We are fitter and more skilled this year.”
Bartholomew believes the team’s goal at this point is the same as it was at the beginning of the season: to win the Peach Belt Conference championship.
Much of the credit to the Bobcat’s season can be given to the head coaching ability of Hope Clark, who is having one of her best years since joining the GC coaching staff nine years ago.
“The players have to be dedicated on their own, and they were disciplined during the summer to be fit and ready,” Clark said.
She said most of the early success is because of team chemistry and the family mentality of the program.
Clark did not fail to mention her team’s standout players, Ashlee Graham and Amanda Bartholomew, whose great play has helped the team get to the point it is at now.
As the team prepares for the second half, Clark said looks for the members to grow each and every day, learn from their opponents and take each game one at a time.
Clark said that with the Peach Belt being one of the toughest conferences in the country, she understands the team’s difficult schedule going forward. The team also understands chemistry and good locker room morale are extremely important.
“The energy in the locker room right now is great, and the girls believe in themselves,” Clark said.
The team has had great midseason success, but they look forward to build on their early accomplishments and grow as a unit.