Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Unbeaten Ridgeview Making Year Special

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Unbeaten Ridgeview Making Year Special

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, Clay County Line sports writer

Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Ridgeview High School girls soccer team has kept its promise of making this a special year for retiring head coach Bob Cozort, using offensive firepower and a stifling defense to remain unbeaten at 13-0-1 heading into the holiday break.

Ridgeview's latest victory, a 1-0 shutout over a fired-up Fleming Island team Thursday, also kept the Panthers atop the seven-team District 6-4A standings at 9-0.

The shutout was Ridgeview's 10th of the season, and freshman Lianne Stricklen's goal at the 17:30 mark of the second half was the team's 76th of the year. Stricklen and her sister, Lyndsi, a junior, have accounted for more than half the Panthers' offensive output.

"Those two girls are so quick, and they never stop running," Cozort said. "And they always play very well together. They always know where the other one is."

Though the two forwards are only two years apart in school, they had never played on the same team. But now that they do, they observe each other on the field and keep in constant communication before, during and after each game.

"She's been watching me, and she knows where my [cross passes] go," Lyndsi said. "And I know where [Lianne's] crosses go. We're talking about soccer more now than we ever have."

Apparently the same is true with Ridgeview's defense, which has given up only seven goals in 14 games.

"It's well-balanced," Cozort said. "If one's out of position, the others give support. They're just all the time communicating."

That was evident against Fleming Island, which is 6-6 overall and 6-3 in the district after losing 3-1 to Lake City Columbia Friday.

Led by sophomore sweeper Meghan Powell and senior stopper Bethany Samuels, Ridgeview kept constant pressure on the Golden Eagles while turning back two penalty kicks and at least one clear shot on goal in the final 15 minutes.

"Meghan saves our butt all the time and Samuels helps her all the time," said Lyndsi Stricklen, who leads the team with 22 goals. …

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