CHESHIRE -- Every morning before a game, Hoosac Valley coach Blair Mahar can expect a visitor before the school day gets started.
"Hey coach, it's game day," sophomore goalkeeper Meg Richardson will say as she pops into his classroom.
In fact, Mahar hears "it's game day," between every class as Richardson bounces up and down the hallways getting herself and her teammates ready for the game. On game day, that's about all she thinks about.
"She gets the team pretty pumped up," junior sweeper Courtney Hayer said. "It's pretty funny, all she does is scream "it's game day," up and down the hall all day."
Before the school day even begins, she's trying to get her team focused on the game.
"I get pretty pumped on game days," Richardson said. "I start getting the girls excited when I get to school around 6:50 in the morning.
"It just gets my focus and hopefully the other girls' focus up and on what we need to do. It gets me mentally prepared
Her focus doesn't bend when it's time to start the game. The keeper makes sure once the team is on the field that everyone is ready to play and doing what they need to do before kickoff.
"During warm-ups she is very focused," senior Danielle Beauchemin said. "She's always yelling and getting our team ready to go."
Being the last line of defense, Richardson is always careful to make sure she is providing as much help and direction on the field as possible.
"Being vocal in the goal is really important," Richardson said. "It organizes the field better and helps the defense see the field better. I try to help the girls by yelling out what I see and when they should step and when the ball should be sent to the outside."
The Hurricanes have recorded three shutouts this season. In 10 games, opponents have only managed to push 13 goals past Richardson.
"She's really important for us," Hayer said. "She's very talkative and really lets us know what's going on. The goalie can see pretty much everything on the field, so she lets us know what's going on and when to step toward the ball."
Richardson may just be a sophomore but that doesn't mean she lacks experience in the goal. She's been playing year-round soccer for several years and participates in the Olympic Development Program in Massachusetts. She is also certified to coach goalkeepers up to the high school level.
She doesn't play any other sports, so she's focused on soccer year-round looking for ways to improve her game and help the team win.
"Meg is a work-aholic and she just loves to be tested," Mahar said. "She won't settle for anything less than perfection on the field."
It's not just in the net where she wants to be the perfect player, she also is a well-rounded position player. Mahar says if she wasn't the starting goalkeeper she would start on the field, most likely in a midfielder position. In limited action this year on the field, she has scored.
Mahar has been coaching the Hoosac program for five seasons and this the first year he has had the same goalkeeper for back-to-back seasons. Before Richardson arrived for her freshman season, Mahar always had what he called an "unlucky volunteer" protecting the goal.
After last season's Western Massachusetts tournament game loss to Monson, the opposing coach told Mahar he was going to miss Richardson when she graduates.
"I just told him, ‘Coach she's only a freshman, I have her for three more years,' " Mahar said. "That's the kind of keeper she is. She's a sophomore but she plays the game like a senior."
Having that kind of keeper allows the forwards to relax and just focus on offense.
"We all feel very comfortable with her in the goal," Beauchemin said. "We all trust her a lot back there and are very thankful she is our goalie. She is just amazing back there."