The Paladins appear poised for another serious run at a state title this year with an 8-4 overall record, a 4-1 mark in Area 6A – giving them the league’s No. 1 seed in the upcoming Class A state playoffs – and the No. 2 ranking in the latest Eurosport Class A poll.
After losing three of its first five games, Fellowship has come back with six wins in its last seven contests.
Fellowship coach Trip Hughes said he is encouraged by his team’s progress and how it has developed after a tough early-season schedule that included playing South Georgia powerhouses Savannah Arts and Veterans in a tournament in Macon as well as Class AAA power and local rival Blessed Trinity.
“We had a lot of good games early on,” Hughes said. “We played in a tournament and tested ourselves against some very good competition and we went up against some very strong competition in the early part of our season. We’ve grown and developed and built on that. We got some good game experience for our younger players.”
Resiliency has been a key to Fellowship’s success over the last few years, demonstrating an ability to pull out the close games.
“Last year, it was evident that we won a lot of games at the end in the last seconds,” Hughes said. “We have a no-quit mentality. We’ve seen this year that we don’t stop until the buzzer’s completely gone and that’s a huge part of our team. We’ve had good athletes come and go. But the main thing about us is, we don’t stop.”
While Fellowship is loaded with veteran experience, with 11 seniors on the roster, Hughes said that the Paladins have gotten key contributions from their younger players as well as their older stalwarts.
“We have a ton of seniors on the roster, for sure,” Hughes said. “The starting lineup is a good mix of all ages. We have some good freshmen as starters. We have good sophomores as starters and a couple of good juniors. So it’s a mix across the board. But we have quality senior leaders on our team.”
Sophomore striker Megan Hudgens leads the team in scoring with 17 goals.
The Paladins have also been boosted by the leadership of their three senior captains – goalkeeper Anna Soderlund and midfielders Elizabeth Tribble and Sydney Partain.
Hughes said he is confident about Fellowship’s chances of contending again for the state title as the Paladins look forward to the state playoffs.
“We’re going to give it our best shot, that’s for sure,” Hughes said. “Last year’s team came in and nobody thought they would have anything close to the success that they had, because we lost eight quality seniors. So I’ve learned not to put anything past this team. They can produce at the highest level at a moment’s notice if they need to. I give us a good shot at making a run. But, soccer is an unpredictable game and you never know what’s going to happen.”