Originally created 04/28/04

Top-ranked Musketeers are looking for respect rank

Rodney Dangerfield and the Richmond Academy boys soccer have something in common.

"All we want is our respect," Richmond Academy senior striker Josh Pittman said. "We feel like we haven't gotten any respect yet."

They took their first kicks at earning that respect on the state stage Tuesday. The Musketeers improved to 21-0 on the year with a 9-0 home victory against South Effingham in the first round of the Georgia High School Association Class AAA Soccer Tournament. Richmond Academy will now face Westover, who defeated Perry 3-0 on Tuesday, in a second-round meeting Monday.

The only intrigue of the night was what was on the minds of Pittman and South Effingham coach Paul Richards after the game. Pittman's feelings were validated by Richards.

Somehow a nine-goal victory just wasn't impressive enough.

"They're not the best team we have seen this season," South Effingham coach Paul Richards said. "The team that played the best against us this year was not Richmond Academy, it was Savannah Christian."

That's a bit odd, considering the National Soccer Coaches Association f America ranked the Musketeers as the No. 1 team in the nation, not in the state or among teams of the same classification south of Atlanta. Richards' impression might have been due to the absence of midfielder/defender Will Batson, who sat out after collecting two yellow cards in the Region 3-AAA title game.

"They are an excellent passing team don't get me wrong about that," Richards said. "But some of the better teams in our classification are going to give their defenders some trouble. Richmond will give up goals and have trouble when they run into quality opposition."

The numbers do not back his claim. The nine scores pushed the Musketeers' season tally to 214 goals against seven goals allowed. It was the squad's 17th shutout and 15th time this season it has scored nine or more goals.

Richmond Academy scored three times in the first 20 minutes of play and didn't allow a sniff at its goal until an off-target header 13 minutes into play. Yet the theme of the systematic annihilation was proving something.

"Everybody says we look good because we play a crappy schedule," said Pittman, who had three goals. "Atlanta's millions of people look down at a little Augusta team that can't have any skill, but they've never seen us play."

Part of that is the schedule, the Musketeers will be the first to admit they lack quality wins. The Mustangs (3-9-2) join a list of weak conquests. Richmond Academy has beaten only 11 teams with a winning record.

"We just want one good team," Pittman said. "We want them in our way so we can beat them and people will begin to think that Richmond Academy might be a great team. We might be confident about our skills but we haven't been cocky."

Reach Jeff Sentell at (706) 823-3425 or jeff.sentell@augustachronicle.com.

Goals: Richmond Academy-John Mark Capers 3, Josh Pittman 3, Havird Usry 2, Parker Rogers. Assists: Richmond Academy-Cline Beam 2, John Mark Capers 2, Parker Rogers 2. Goalkeepers: South Effingham-Logan Masters (12 saves) Richmond Academy-Peter Menk (2 saves). Records: South Effingham 3-9-2, Richmond Academy 21-0. Next: Richmond Academy vs. Westover, May 3, 7 p.m.


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