CONYERS - After five years, three Region 8-AAAA championships and a trip to the Class AAAA Final Four, Heather Richardson is stepping down as the Salem girls head soccer coach.
Richardson's stint as the Lady Seminoles' coach culminated with one of the most successful campaigns in school history.
The Lady Seminoles capped off the 2008 season with their third straight region title before advancing to the Final Four of the state tournament.
"I thought it was a great season. It was just such an exciting season," Richardson said. "We just kept getting better as the season went on and we played as a team. I feel that it was a wonderful season."
Richardson said the season was filled with numerous highlights, but watching the maturation process of her players stood out above the others.
"The thing that I enjoyed most was watching the girls come together as a team. They played well together and capitalized on the strengths that we had," Richardson said. "They were so focused on winning, especially the last few games. They really just pulled together, and that's what's it all about. And even though we didn't make it all the way to the finals, I think the girls should be very proud of what they accomplished."
The Lady Seminoles lost to eventual state champion Marist 1-0.
Richardson said the success she enjoyed this season was bittersweet because she knew this was the last time she would coach these players at Salem.
"It was definitely bittersweet. It was a wonderful way to end my coaching days at Salem, because we did such a great job, but there will always be a coach in me that wants to stay and see what could have happened next season or the next," she said.
"I think it was bittersweet for the girls, too. They worked so hard and so many good things happened, and then to lose that late in the game was tough for them. When I think back on the seasons I had with these players, I'm so proud of how hard they worked. High school soccer is hard work and it's hard every single day. I wanted to make sure that they made the most of it and that they had fun doing it."
Brandon Evans can be reached at email@example.com.