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Area players litter all-region soccer teams

It's been a big year for the soccer teams at Heritage High School, and the good news continued this week.

The girls and boys teams put a combined 16 players on the all-Region 8-AAAA teams, while girls coach Chad Suddeth and boys coach Brandon Stewart each won coach of the year honors.

The Heritage girls, who travel to Lee County for a second round state tournament game Wednesday, had a trio of players on the first team: Clayton State signee Courtney Hodges, University of Florida signee Arielle Gunderson and defensive whiz Cate Reach. Goalkeeper Mady Carter and defender Lena Killingsworth made the second team, while defenders Ray Brown and Abby Dunlop were honorable mention selections.

"Very grateful that we are so well represented on the all-region team," said Suddeth. "It serves as evidence that we have very strong players in our program, it's always nice for the players to receive this type of recognition. Arielle and Courtney have been getting all of the recognition this season, but I'm especially proud for Cate Reach. It's hard for a defender to standout because they do all of the dirty work & normally don't compile a lot of stats, but anyone who understands the game knows that Cate Reach just had a tremendous season for us."

Stewart's team finished with an unbeaten region record, won the program's first league title since 2003 and were rewarded for their fine season. Forward Mauricio Reyes won co-region player of the year honors with Habersham Central's Jose Lara, and Reyes was joined by midfielder Gustavo Martinez and defender Harrison Kulp on the first team.

"Gustavo and Harrison and 'Kata', what we call Reyes, I thought they were the spine of our squad," Stewart said. "And when they were super strong, and pushing from the back, middle and top, we were at our best."

Six other Patriots received all-region honors: defenders Will Boggus, Ramon Rodriquez and Grant Crain were second-team selections and goalkeeper Alejandro Alvarado and midfielders Jeffrey Lawson and Juan Villanueva were named honorable mention.

"My boys have put in serious work," Stewart said. "They have given (the coach of the year award) to me with their hard work on the field, in the hallways, and in the classroom. So it's really a credit to them, they are the ones who get the results on the field, not me."

Salem had seven players named all-region. On the girls team, midfielder Hannah Englebracht and defender Layne Jackson were named to the second team, while goalkeeper Sydni Booker was named honorable mention. The boys put midfielders Kofi Yankey and Daniel Rodriguez and defender Evrin Buchanon on the second team, while midfielder Christian Collin was named an honorable mention selection.

Rockdale's only representative was Geovanni Gonzalez, who was a boys second team selection.