Home Local Sports Eason, Castro guide Raiders to season-opening victory

Eason, Castro guide Raiders to season-opening victory

Senior forward James Eason (18), who scored twice, battles for possession during Tuesday's win. (Deon Cranford/The Richmond Observer)

ROCKINGHAM — The teamwork of two seniors propelled the Richmond Senior High School soccer team to a season-opening win during Tuesday’s thriller.

Forward James Eason and midfielder Jesus Castro were in sync against St. Pauls High School, leading the Raiders to a 3-2 victory.

Making up the match against the Bulldogs from Monday’s rainout, the Raiders overcame a second-half deficit.

Eason scored twice in the win, both times in the second half, including the game-winning tally in the final 90 seconds.

Castro did his part by scoring in the first half and assisting on both of Eason’s goals in the final 40 minutes of play.

Controlling the tempo of the match early, it was Richmond that struck first. Castro netted the Raiders’ first goal of the fall on a free kick.

Taking the kick from about 30 yards, Castro launched the ball on frame and one-hopped inside the right post and past the keeper in the 11th minute.

With the clock winding in the first half, the Bulldogs (0-1) tied the game in the 37th minute. Richmond committed a turnover in the back, which led to the goal.

In the 50th minute, St. Pauls scored again on a 1v1 opportunity to take a 2-1 lead.

Not to be outdone, Castro and Eason tied the game just six minutes later. Similar to the first goal, Castro sent a free kick into the box.

There to collect the bouncing ball was Eason, who redirected it into the net to make it 2-2 with a little under 25 minutes left in regulation.

Senior midfielder Jesus Castro (left) recorded a goal and two assists in Tuesday’s win. (Deon Cranford/The Richmond Observer)

Both teams traded opportunities for the remainder of the game before Castro and Eason paired up one more time to secure the victory.

Castro made his way across midfield and sent a long volley over the top to Eason who was charging down the right side of the field. Taking possession, Eason went 1v1 with the keeper and one-timed the game-winning shot.

The Raiders (1-0) will have a quick turnaround and travel to non-conference Porter Ridge High School (0-1) on Wednesday to close out their opening week of play. Varsity action will begin at 7 p.m.

JV Raiders also win season opener

The junior varsity soccer team started play on Monday before rain moved its make-up game with St. Pauls on Tuesday.

Playing two 30-minute halves with a running clock (10 minutes shorter than a regular match), the JV Raiders earned a 3-1 win.

“We played 23 minutes last night and dominated,” head coach Bennie Howard said. “We had five shots but couldn’t finish. Tonight was a different story. I changed the lineup a little bit, which improved our chances of scoring.

“Everyone got to play and we played better tonight as a team. I’m glad we got the win. The kids did what was asked of them, especially staying wide and winning first and second balls in the air.” 

The JV Raiders took a 1-0 lead into the half. Richmond went ahead thanks to an own-goal by the JV Bulldogs, which was credited to sophomore Erick Jimenez, who last touched the ball.

Sophomore Dougie Dickinson gave the team a 2-0 lead in the second half, scoring on a shot from the top of the 18-yard box. 

Adding the third goal from inside 15 yards later in the second half was freshman Patrick Smith. 

St. Pauls scored its lone goal in the closing eight minutes of the game. The JV Bulldogs also scored on a free kick but time had expired, Howard explained.

Also in action on Wednesday, the JV Raiders (1-0) will travel to Porter Ridge and start at 5:30 p.m.

Sports editor’s note: Deon Cranford provided information, photos and video to this article.

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Kyle Pillar is a 16-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.