SANFORD — Beginning the second round of Sandhills Athletic Conference play on Wednesday, the Richmond Raiders almost completed the comeback at Southern Lee High School.
Despite holding a lead early in the game, the Raiders lost 3-2 to the Cavaliers.
Richmond and Southern Lee split the regular-season series with each team winning its home match.
“We played well but didn’t come out on the right side of it tonight,” head coach Chris Larsen said. “I saw some movement in our new formation, which was encouraging. I was pleased with the way the guys fought back and held their heads high in the final 10 minutes.
“We knew it was going to be a battle, especially night in and night out in our conference,” he added. “The guys understand they need to show up and play, which they did. We had a few more chances to score late and tie it, we were just unlucky.”
Most of the first half went scoreless before sophomore forward Memphis Jacobs gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute.
Senior midfielder Jesus Castro took the ball into the right corner and slid it across to Jacobs, who redirected the ball into the left side netting for his third goal of the season. Castro was awarded the assist.
Southern Lee (7-4-1, 5-2 SAC) evened the match three minutes later thanks to a penalty kick. The scoring opportunity was set up after Richmond was called for a foul in the box.
The Cavaliers were quick to strike again, netting a goal in the 36th minute to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. Richmond blocked the initial shot but didn’t close the space at the top of the box, which resulted in a goal under the crossbar.
Junior goalkeeper Adrian Padron kept Richmond’s deficit at one goal when he made a stop on a penalty kick in the 60th minute. It was his second stop on a PK in two matches.
But just 15 seconds after that save on the ensuing corner kick, the Cavaliers scored off the set piece inside the near post to extend their lead to 3-1.
Senior James Eason and junior Noah Gil helped chip away at the lead in the 69th minute. On an offensive rush, Eason threaded the ball to Gil, who struck it into the net for his second goal of the season.
“I pushed more bodies forward to give us a better chance to score,” Larsen explained. “Gonzalo (Morales) won the ball on the right side and made a pass to James, who was making the diagonal run.
“James took a touch or two before crossing it to the top of the six-yard box where Noah one-timed the goal on the back post run.”
The Raiders turned up the pressure in the final 10 minutes but weren’t able to find the back of the net again.
Richmond (6-6-1, 3-3-1) returns home on Thursday to face non-conference Terry Sanford High School (9-5-1). Varsity will begin at 7 p.m.
JV Raiders also lose to Southern Lee
The Richmond junior varsity soccer team suffered its first SAC loss of the season at Southern Lee on Tuesday.
Losing 2-1, the JV Raiders fell behind early and trailed 2-0 at halftime.
Sophomore Dougie Dickinson scored five minutes into the second half to cut the lead to one. Richmond was later awarded a PK opportunity, but the shot was high and wide.
The JV Raiders (5-2-4, 2-1-3 SAC) will also welcome the JV Bulldogs (4-1-4) on Thursday at 5 p.m.
Sports editor’s note: Chris Larsen, Bennie Howard and Andy Summerlin contributed to this article.