The FPCA varsity soccer teams began their season on Feb. 27 at the St. James Sports Center. The varsity girls won with an 8-0 shutout and the Highlanders tied 1-1 against Trinity Statesboro.
The Highlanders are coached by Tom Sukaratana, assisted by Holly Buckley.
In the first 45 seconds of the girls’ game Cecilia Graham received the ball from Mercedes Buckley, manuevered around the defense and scored. Graham would score five goals during the game, with assists from Buckley, Mary Kathryn Whitney and Kasey Caines. Buckley scored twice with assists from Graham and Cassandra Ruff. Mackenzie Buckley scored unassisted after winning the ball and bringing it up the field. Goalkeeper Helana Scott earned the shutout.
The boys started slow with Trinity finding the goal first. Eighth-grader Donny Phillips, in his varsity debut, answered with a goal on an assist by Ausar Gibbs.
The teams would battle back and forth for the rest of the game. Another varsity newcomer, eighth-grader Jason Ouyang, covered on defense. Goalkeeper Matthew Smith made multiple saves to perserve the tie.
Sukaratana praised his squads, saying many players have just begun full practice after basketball. With the Highlanders in another basketball state title run, Sukaratana will not have his full boys squad until next week.
Six of his starters just finished girls basketball.
"On my girls team, for the first time in years, I have depth," Sukaratana said. "I did not put my starting lineup on the field together yet. I needed my new players to gain experience this week for our tournament at Sherwood."
The coach praised several players.
"I am very pleased with Graham, Whitney and Molly Strickland," he said. "They show leadership and commitment that we need at practice and on the field. I coached Strickland’s father and it is special to me to be coaching his daughter."
Sukaratana said the boys team is an improvement from last year. He has four eighth graders who will make an immediate impact on the game.
Next week, FPCA plays in Albany in Sherwood Academy’s annual Under the Cross Tournament. Games start Friday and continue through Saturday.