Crosstown foes will battle for the 35th time Wednesday when the Lynchburg and Randolph women’s soccer teams take to the pitch at Shellenberger Field. And in the latest edition of the matchup, the Hill City rivalry goes deeper than the traditions of the two Old Dominion Athletic Conference schools.
Between the two squads, seven players and an assistant coach carry into the 4 p.m. contest ties that stretch beyond their college days. For four Randolph players and three athletes who will wear Lynchburg red, along with UL assistant coach Matt Newton, the matchup will provide a chance to renew other longstanding rivalries — those of their high school days.
Mary Dorman and Grace Jennings, both products of Jefferson Forest, will take on their former coach in Lynchburg’s Newton and another JF grad, Sarah Crider.
Michaela Salerno, who came to Randolph by way of E.C. Glass, will take on former Glass standout Amanda Wigboldy, who already has become a scoring threat for Lynchburg after transferring there this year from Division I William & Mary.
Bedford native Hannah Overstreet, a product of Liberty High, rounds out Randolph’s contingent of players from the area, and MJ Lyons (Brookville) is UL’s third area product — all three of whom have joined or re-joined the roster this year.
“It’s fun knowing we can all still continue to play together at the college level,” Wigboldy said.
After having faced off against each other multiple times in high school, Overstreet said playing for Randolph gives her the chance to not only get to know former rivals that now are teammates, but also continue playing against those she knew.
Between the two teams, the VHSL’s Seminole District is well-represented at the college level, which showcases the competitive nature of both travel ball among high-school age players and of the area programs, players say.
“I think it speaks a lot about even the club teams in the area,” Dorman said. “Then that feeds into the high school level.”
And those histories have provided for some extra fun now, Crider said.
“We’ve kind of joked around with each other about it before,” Crider said of the occasional conversations she has with teammates Wigboldy and Lyons.
“Obviously no hard feelings now. We’ll talk about past games and situations we remember. I don’t know. It’s kind of fun.”
Wigboldy, who dominated on the pitch in high school to earn a spot on a Division I team before making the trek back to Lynchburg, is certainly a player to watch tonight.
The sophomore midfielder has started all nine games for the Hornets and is tied for second on the team with three goals. And two of those goals, on penalty kicks, have proven she’s already earned the trust of the storied UL coaching staff, led by longtime coach Todd Olsen.
“She’s definitely an intimidating player,” Dorman said of Wigboldy. “Every time I’ve gone against her, she’s tall, very technical, aggressive.”
Wigboldy and Lynchburg (5-3-1, 1-1 ODAC) are searching for a second win in ODAC play, while Randolph (4-3-2, 0-2) looks to snap a two-game skid in hopes of picking up its first conference victory.
“We’re gonna have to have a lot of heart,” Overstreet said of the key for her WildCats if they’re to pick up a win. “We’re gonna have to work super hard. I think we have the ability to play at that level, to beat them, but we’re gonna have to give it our all.”
While Lynchburg is starting to find its way again after losing a bevy of seniors to graduation, Randolph will have to find an answer to the loss of two starters to injury.
“They’re rebuilding, but we’re recovering,” Dorman said.
Dorman and Overstreet believe the talent is there for Randolph, and if they can get everyone on the same page, they say there’s hope for the WildCats’ first-ever victory in the series.
“We’ve had some close games and some big wins, so it would continue to drive us,” said Overstreet, a senior, of what a win over UL would mean. “Every year since I’ve been here, we’re continuing to get stronger and stronger. It’s a cool time for RCWS [Randolph College women’s soccer].”
And for Lynchburg, the game plan is simple: continue playing for each other rather than as an individual, and execute the basics.
“We definitely need to come out with some intensity, because Randolph will do the same thing … especially because of the Hill City rivalry,” Crider said. “We just need to play strong, connect passes, just do the simple things.”
Emily Brown covers the Hillcats, ODAC and high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5529.