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The growing pains the Heritage girls’ soccer team experienced at the beginning of the season seemed to have really helped the Patriots with the way they’ve been performing.

After starting the season off 1-1-4, the Patriots turned its fortunes around impressively, running on a 7-0-1 unbeaten streak. The team’s 4-0 victory over Freedom on Jan. 30 showcased its underclassmen rising up to the occasion.

“These girls play a high level of club soccer,” said Heritage head coach Gary LaFleur. “I think the team has embraced and encouraged to play the way they’re comfortable playing. I think they’re having a blast. I’m proud of all these players.”

Three of the four goals recorded on the night came from freshmen. Taryn Richey scored her first of two with a strong right-foot shot. Abigail Salgado followed up not too long after by hitting a volley out of the reach of Freedom’s goalkeeper.

In similar fashion, Richey completed her brace by burying a volley of her own, making it 3-0 at halftime.

“It’s a really fast style of play. We rely on passing the ball a lot more,” Richey said. “My goals were thanks to my teammates; they played really good balls.”

Sami Wilson added another goal in the second half to make it 4-0.

Heritage’s success could also be linked with a veteran move executed by LaFleur shaking up his lineup. Renny Buchanan transitioned into a holding-midfielder and Hailey Hamataka moved up into an attack-oriented role. Hamataka didn’t get on the score sheet but looked dangerous up top. She’s nailed in four goals in league play.

“We’re working on maintaining our composure and moving the ball around,” said LaFleur. “We need to fix the little things to keep moving forward.”

The Patriots are tied with Liberty for first place with a record of 6-0-1.

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