The road to the postseason has been a little more difficult for the Lady Raiders this year, however.
Having lost nine seniors — including seven starters — from last season’s Class AAAAA state quarterfinal team and dealing with the disruptions caused by the area’s severe winter weather early in the season, Riverwood struggled to a 0-4-1 start.
But, the Lady Raiders proceeded to get back on track after that with seven wins in their next 10 games.
As a result, Riverwood started the week 7-7-1 overall and a 7-2 mark in Region 7AAAAA, giving the Lady Raiders the No. 2 state playoff seed from the league.
Now that its younger lineup has fully established itself, Riverwood coach Donald Macoy said everything is back to normal for his team.
“We lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team and we’ve been through the snow days and we lost some days of school,” Macoy said. “Every team had to go through that. But, with us having a lot of new players, it affected us a little more than some. Once we were able to get back in a regular routine, getting into the region schedule, we started to get back in the right direction.”
While Riverwood’s young lineup has begun to gel, Macoy said they are still in a learning process.
“We’re still figuring some things out,” he said. “It’s taken all this time to figure out our identity. We came in knowing we’re fairly strong defensively. Even though we played a tough schedule early, we played a couple of [teams] real close. A couple of games, we gave up a lot of goals, which was unexpected. So, we’ve been getting the midfield and forwards to start working together and that was the next big step and our defense definitely gave us time to do that.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Alex Plavin leads a Riverwood defensive unit, along with senior defenders and twin sisters Madeline and Carly Morse, sophomore defender Emma McCaskill and junior backup goalkeeper Margaret Beckley, which has recorded six shutouts this season.
Juniors Emma McCabe and Blanca Gonzalez anchor the midfield, while sophomore forward Adriana Romero (eight goals) and freshman forward Megan Nohstadt (four goals) are the Lady Raiders’ leading scorers.
Macoy said his team is ready to put its early struggles behind it and make another serious postseason run like last year’s quarterfinal finish.
“We’re moving into form,” Macoy said. “One of the big improvements seems to be our willingness to play hard all 80 minutes. I think early in the season, we weren’t quite ready mentally to get after it. I think the state playoffs are always tough, but I think we can play with whoever we match up with, give them a good game and hope the bounces go our way.”