In the regular-season finale against non-conference rival Southeast Bulloch, Statesboro’s Rachel Wiggins made an impressive diving stop with just 10 minutes left to play to preserve a 2-0 shutout.
Plays like that are what the Lady Blue Devils expect from their senior goalkeeper. Wiggins certainly plays like a veteran, however, she’s not. In fact, this year is her first time picking up a soccer ball — and stopping them.
Wiggins played volleyball for two years at Statesboro and after some convincing from Smith Kaiser and Cally Reed, Wiggins decided to give soccer a try. Turns out, she’s really good.
“She hasn’t made any rookie mistakes this season. She’s smart, she’s coachable and she learns quickly. She’s made a lot of saves that have impressed us,” said SHS girls soccer coach Brian Thomas. “She’s made saves that were unbelievable.”
Coming into the season, the Lady Blue Devils were in need of a goalkeeper. Wiggins came in to train with the team and got the starting job on the second day of tryouts.
Fast forward to the end of the season, Wiggins has helped lead Statesboro (9-6, 5-3 Region 3-AAAAA) to three shutout wins throughout the season and a region playoff berth. The Lady Blue Devils will face Camden County on the road in the first round of the region playoffs.
The Lady Blue Devils’ goalkeeper said her success this season took her a bit by surprise.
“I just have a love of sports and the competitiveness of it. I just get out there and I want to win. I do whatever I can to help my team out and do the best I can to help them and take the pressure off of them,” Wiggins said.
Adjusting to a new sport wasn’t easy, Wiggins said.
Along with her teammates giving her extra help, Statesboro goalkeeper Kyle Altman helped develop Wiggins’ talent throughout the season.
Wiggins said Altman is a great goalkeeper to learn from. His numbers this year speak for themselves. So far, he’s helped lead Statesboro to eight shutout wins this season.
“Everyone has accepted me like I’ve been here for four years and I think it’s great. My teammates put the confidence in me. I couldn’t do this without them. Every game they tell me ‘you got this,’ Wiggins said. “[Kyle Altman] has helped me throughout this season and I couldn’t of done it without him either. He taught me a lot of what I know. [My success] goes to everybody. It’s a team effort.”
It will take a team effort to defeat Camden County, today. Camden County is currently riding a four-game win streak. Wiggins will also have her hands full against a potent Lady Wildcat offense. In the previous four games, the Lady Wildcats have outscored their opponents 25-1.
Camden County hosts Statesboro today at 5 p.m.
“I feel prepared. The would come at me every time if it wasn’t for our defense and our offense possessing the ball. They are a big part of that. I’m ready for tomorrow and I think our whole team is ready to face them. We want to take the challenge head on and I think we’re mentally prepared for that,” Wiggins said. “We’ve prepared all season for this. We’re ready.”