Though it may have been a stumbling start to the season, Heritage girls soccer head coach Laura Freeman led her team to a hot finish before the season’s unexpected end.

Freeman, who had been with the team for three years as an assistant coach, was hired as the head coach just two weeks before the season started in January. With such a quick transition, Freeman and the Patriots had a slow start to the year, dropping their first two games to Eastside and North Oconee.

“Head coaching is a lot different,’ Freeman said. “I think it took a little bit to figure everything out. The girls were very flexible and patient with me. They were always willing to work hard.”

The flexibility and patience began to pay off for the Patriots soon after as they began to hit their stride. Heritage won its next seven games, including three region victories, with a matchup against top-ranked Buford looming.

“We went in, we watched a bunch of film, made some adjustments, and worked on our strength and conditioning,” Freeman said. “We went into the game against Buford with the mindset of ‘This may not count as a region game, but they’re a fantastic team that we would really like to play against.’”

Behind Freeman’s leadership and a stellar defensive performance, the Patriots dethroned the Wolves by a score of 3-0. The victory extended their winning streak to eight games, and their prolific offense scored 51 goals during that span.

“It was a huge win for us,” she said. “It was such an awesome game and since it was our last game, I’m happy the game ended the way it did.”

Heritage’s next game, scheduled for Friday, March 13, was postponed and later cancelled due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. This was a crushing and shocking ending that nobody on the team was prepared for.

“We all cried a lot,” Freeman said. “I definitely feel like we had a strong chance to continue on and be region champions. It makes me sad that there was so much potential and hope that was put on hold.”

Despite this less than satisfying end to an increasingly exciting season, Freeman says her team is already looking forward to and putting in the work for next year. Heritage finished with a No. 7 state ranking in Class AAAAAA.

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