RAEFORD, N.C. – After seemingly turning things around with two Sandhills Athletic Conference wins last week, the Richmond Senior High School varsity boys soccer team failed to make it three in a row Monday. The Raiders dropped their third conference game of the year 3-2 in double overtime to the Hoke County High School Bucks.
In what head coach Bennie Howard described as his team “playing a really good soccer game,” the Raiders (7-5, 4-3 SAC) couldn’t hold onto two separate leads, and the Bucks (4-5-3, 3-3 SAC) managed to get an early lead in the overtime period to hold on for the win.
It was Richmond senior forward Victor Lucero who got the night’s scoring underway, as he netted his eighth goal of the season. As the only goal in the only goal for either team in the first half, the Raiders gave up the first equalizing goal in the 48th minute.
The Raiders found themselves back in the lead with 13 minutes remaining in the second half when senior forward Brett Baucom scored his second goal of the year. As a result of a collision between Hoke’s goalkeeper and one of his own defenders, Baucom was able to head the ball into the back of the net.
Howard noted that his players had trouble all night “marking up” the Bucks’ players, and their inability to do so caught up with them just a few minutes after Baucom’s go-ahead goal when Hoke County knotted the game a two.
Being that it was a conference game, Richmond found itself heading into a two 10-minute overtime period. Seven minutes into the first overtime, Richmond committed a foul just outside of its own box, which set up Hoke’s game-winning goal. The free kick sailed around a wall of Raiders defenders before finding its way into the top corner of the goal.
“For the next 13 minutes, we tried to come up with the equalizer to tie it up,” Howard said. “We’ve put ourselves in the position with our backs against the wall. In regard to the playoffs, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re going to have to wake up and play some really good soccer (to make the playoffs).”
The junior varsity team was also in action Monday night, and was able to secure a 1-0 win on the road to improve to 6-3, 3-2 in SAC play. Sophomore forward Cole Deane scored the match’s only goal, coming on a late second-half strike.
“Although the score doesn’t indicate it, the JV guys are playing some of the best soccer they have played all year,” junior varsity head coach Chris Larsen said. “They’re showing determination to learn and play at a higher level.
“At the start of the year, we were just kicking and chasing the ball,” Larsen added. “Now we can maintain possession, are connecting on passes, and are working as a whole unit to win games.
With Monday’s game being the last of the first round of conference play (and the second round beginning Wednesday at Purnell Swett High School), the Raiders will need to get rolling if they want to make a push at the state playoffs. Only varsity will play at Purnell Swett, with game time beginning at 7 p.m.