SPRINGFIELD — Bailee Hildebrandt launched a long-range missile that exploded in a Feb. 16 victory for Effingham County’s girls soccer team.
Hildebrandt’s direct kick with two minutes left skimmed off the goalkeeper’s fingertips and just underneath the crossbar to power the Lady Rebels to a 2-1 win in their Region 2-AAAAAA opener against the Statesboro Lady Blue Devils.
“This is good,” Lady Rebels head coach Wade Wright said with a chuckle. “We know we won’t be shut out in the region now.”
Hildebrandt’s heroic boot prevented Effingham County from possibly losing a contest that it absolutely dominated, especially in the first half.
“We played about as well, as any team that I’ve ever coached at Effingham going back twenty-five years” Wright said.
Effingham County’s thorough control of ball didn’t translate to many scoring chances, though. The ones they had came up empty.
Wright thinks his team’s overall youth is the culprit for several missed offensive opportunities. Thirteen of their 18 players are freshmen or sophomores.
Despite the misfires, Wright said his team is improving exponentially.
“We are ten times better (than last year,” he said. “I can’t say enough about this group. We have the opportunity to do well with this group.
“Whether we take advantage of this opportunity? We’ve got to practice hard and continue ... ”
Wright believes success will come for the Lady Rebels if they follow Hildebrandt’s lead. She tallied Effingham County’s first goal against the Lady Devils on a direct kick with 7:16 left in the first half.
“Being a senior, being a captain and being as dominant as she is is really helping the program because she takes pressure off those young kids,” Wright said. “She makes those young kids around her better. She takes pressure off of them so that they can work on betting better.”