During the minutes leading up to Augusta Preparatory Day School's Senior Day game against John Milledge Academy, girls soccer coach Forrest Wimberly could only smile.
Though the Lady Cavaliers were on the last leg of their 16-game schedule, they were fielding their top 11 players for the first time this season.
"We survived," Wimberly said. "We've had 15 games with 15 different starting lineups. We've dealt with injuries, class trips, suspensions and everything else, but we went into survival mode and we made it."
The Lady Cavaliers celebrated their new-found health with a 2-1 win over John Milledge Academy on Tuesday. The victory gave the team a guaranteed home game in the first round of the GISA AAA State Tournament.
Amid the celebration, four Augusta Prep seniors were honored after the game, along with senior Susanna O'Kula - one of many on the team bitten by the injury bug this season.
"I sprained my ankle in one of the first games this season and was out a month," O'Kula said. "This was only my third game this year."
The injuries forced the Augusta Prep bench into action for much of the season, but the Lady Cavaliers managed a 10-5 record heading into their final regular season game because of an active bunch of underclassmen.
The latest rookie hero was eighth-grader Stephanie Brown.
"She's the spirit of this team," Wimberly said. "She was given this opportunity to play, and she took advantage of it."
Brown scored both goals in Tuesday's win to lift Augusta Prep to 4-1 in Region 4-AAA play. The first goal came off a pass from senior Monica Ploetzke in the game's eighth minute. Augusta Prep took a 2-0 lead on Brown's second score, a close-range shot off a rebound in the 65th minute.
After the game, Brown was congratulated for her play, but it was the four seniors, O'Kula, Ploetzke, Becca Adkins and Hailie Bell, who were honored.
"This was the fourth 10-win season in the program's history and the 100th win of the program's history," Wimberly said in the Senior Day ceremony. "That says a lot for what these girls have done."
The Lady Cavaliers will begin postseason play Tuesday with a 5 p.m. home game in the first round of the GISA AAA Tournament against an opponent to be determined later.
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