The measuring stick for Greenbrier's soccer team came last Friday in the form of an unbeaten team.
Richmond Academy, the top-ranked team in Georgia High School Association Class AAA, tied its season-low offensive output against the Wolfpack. The Musketeers, clearly the top team in the area so far this season, won by a 3-0 margin but had to grind to earn the victory.
"Greenbrier was definitely tougher competition that what we have been playing," Richmond Academy's Havrid Usry said.
Competition was what both teams needed last week at ARC Stadium. Each team needed a test. Each team received one.
"I thought Greenbrier really outplayed us and out-possessed early on," Richmond Academy's Cline Beam said, who scored two of the three goals in the contest. "We had to raise our level of play from what is was early-on to beat them."
Scoreboards always have trouble measuring effort. Beam's goals came against Greenbrier sophomore goalkeeper Jonathan Shackleford - who, with gloves that look like oven mitts, came into the game allowing opponents only 1.3 goals per game.
"They're super-sized, man," Shackleford said. "I've just got some big hands that help out."
Shackleford was shielded on one of Beam's two goals. The second Beam goal came on a remarkable effort by Richmond Academy's junior striker.
"Both of those were excellent shots," Shackleford said. "The initial reaction of any keeper after you're scored on is you're mad you got beat but there wasn't much I could do about those. He hit one to the far post and the other was at a perfect 90 degree angle with the post."
It was a defensive effort not to be overlooked despite a three-goal defeat. The Musketeers were averaging 10 goals per game coming into the contest.
"We played an overall excellent game no matter what that score says," Shackleford said. "This was our best defense of the year against a very good team. Our offense was there. We had more shots than we had all year. I'm proud of us.'
Offense had been an area of concern for the Wolfpack this season. They showed a little more against the toughest team they'd faced this year.
"Richmond controlled the midfield well," Greenbrier coach Chip Warren said. "We don't control the ball in the midfield well. That's one of our weaknesses along with being real young up front. We created more chances tonight. It was improvement. We had a few chances, now the key is to create better scoring opportunities from those chances."
Richmond made a decisive decision on almost every ball in the midfield that allowed them to control the game.
"The difference when it comes to that is just experience," Greenbrier's Chance Lord said. "We're learning the way to play together. Our best is yet to come. We'll develop and we'll get to where we need to be."
Richmond scheduled the Wolfpack because of the reputation of the program under Warren. They knew that by scheduling Greenbrier, they would be facing one of the best teams in the Augusta area.
"They're so young but I wouldn't really want to face them again down the line," Richmond Academy coach Chris Hughes said. "They look like they might have it figured out by the time the playoffs roll around. They'll get better every game as their new faces figure things out."
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