MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia Military Prep School girls’ soccer finished out the season on a high note on last Thursday as they took down cross-town rival Baldwin High, a game of which was highlighted by many stellar performances for the Lady Bulldogs.
One of those performances was by Elizabeth Savage, the back-up goalie for the team, ending the contest with the most saves in the game with five stops after starter Becky Vaughn held the Bravettes scoreless in the first half.
While Savage saw very limited playing time this season, she contributed to the team in a major way earlier in the season when Vaughn was sidelined with a concussion.
“She did the best she could,” head coach Linda Brown said. “Thank goodness we had somebody that could step up.”
Having never played the position before this season, Savage voluntarily stepped into the role as the team’s back-up with no experience.
“At the beginning of the season we needed a backup goalie, and she stood up and said, ‘I’ll try,’” Brown said. “As a matter of fact, I had her and a freshman [Mya Milner], who said, ‘I don’t have any experience, but I’ll try.’”
The junior finished out the season with a 78 percent retrieval rate of shots on goal, second to Vaughn’s 80 percent retrieval rate.
“Becky is amazing. In fact she has an 80 percent retrieval of shots against really good teams,” Savage said. “My stops were against teams less skilled. Honestly, the only reason my stats were 78 percent was because my teammates on defense were amazing.”
Because Savage saw limited time at the varsity level, Brown also used her in select junior varsity games to help develop the young goalie.
“She was in a hard position from that respect,” the head coach said. “Actually, because she wasn’t getting a lot of experience playing goalie, I brought her to a couple JV games to get her more playing time in case Becky did go down.”
The lack of experience this season also fueled some doubt in Savage when she stepped on the field; however, her teammates were always there to pick her up.
“I tried really hard,” she said. “I was petrified every time they put me in the goal. I was always really scared because I didn’t want to let the team down.
“Molly Jones reminded me in the last game, ‘Savage don’t even worry about it, because when I come back on defense no one scores.’”
In addition to her duty as one of the team’s goalies, Savage also played a limited time at the left-mid position for the Lady Bulldogs — another area she lacked experience at before this season.
“She was trying to learn two positions this year, and she had never played either,” Brown said. “Sometimes I’d put her on the field, sometimes I’d put her in the goal for some time. It’s not easy on any player. She definitely improved over the season, so that’s another plus.”
While Savage improved this season, she admits the year was about more than just an individual performance.
The second-year player understands the Lady Bulldogs won and lost as a team, as a family.
“I wouldn’t call myself the best player on the team by a long shot,” Savage said. “I’m just so proud of my whole team. It is insane how much our team is there for each other and how we have each other’s back.
“When I ran cross country, it was way more individual and singular,” she added, “but Raiders and soccer have taught me it is so much more about the team.”