When Fenwick athletic director Mike Curtin hired Chris Richter to guide the Friars’ girls soccer program, it’s safe to say the Fenwick faithful got more than just your average soccer coach.

“This isn’t a school where mid-level success in sectionals is acceptable for very long,” said Richter, who replaced Tony Hepburn in the offseason. “We’re on our way back to the top, and this year will be a good measure of how we’re doing.”

After posting a 9-6-5 overall record a year ago and getting bounced by Lyons in sectional play, Richter believes this program has finally adjusted to Class AA after being a Class A power.

“We’ve had the opportunity to adjust to Class AA ball since our Class A fourth-place finish in 2004,” Richter said. “We have installed a new system this year, and we’re prepared to take the incremental steps back to the top.”

For that to happen, Fenwick will need consistent play all season from its big three-goalie Angela Righeimer and midfielders Candace Ruff and Catherine Maloney. Righeimer will play at Toledo in the fall.

“This year’s team has a number of players returning,” Richter said. “There also is some depth in both the sophomore and freshmen classes. That’s going to help us a lot this year.”

With the Class AA sectional assignments set to be released within the next couple of weeks, there is a good chance Fenwick will once again be paired with teams from the Public League and area powers Lyons and Oak Park. If that is the case, Richter believes his team can compete and win a sectional crown this spring.

“Soccer is a game of creating opportunities and then taking advantage of them once available,” Richter said. “In prior years, we’ve accomplished the former.

“When we control the midfield and convert those precious opportunities, great things happen. We have a good group this year, and I’m looking forward to a lot of great things from them.”

The Friars will be tested early, which will give Richter an idea of just how good his new system really is.

“We play five key games consecutively right off the bat,” Richter said. “Those games include Benet, York, St. Viator, Oak Park and Carmel. I know they’re early in the season, but they will give us an indication of where we stand. One of our main goals is to be prepared for the state playoffs, and I know we will be.”

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