ST. PAULS, NC – Coming together in a combined team effort, the Richmond Senior High School boys’ soccer team got the 2017 season off on the right foot.
Travelling to St. Pauls High School in Robeson County for a non-conference meeting, the Raiders varsity squad secured a 4-0 victory before looming inclement weather and lightning strikes shortened the match to 62 minutes.
Before Richmond head coach Bennie Howard and St. Pauls’ Brent Martin mutually agreed to call the match, the Raiders seemed to have fixed the few hiccups they experienced in last Thursday’s scrimmage against North Moore High School.
Outshooting the Bulldogs 17 shots to three, Richmond netted two goals in the first half. Playing his first game as a member of the varsity team, sophomore midfielder Noah Jordan opened the season’s scoring in the first minute of play. Before half’s end, senior forward Jonathan Tadlock also found the back of the net.
“We showed a much better effort tonight against St. Pauls than we did in our scrimmage last week,” Howard said. “What we worked on in Friday and Monday’s practices showed up tonight.”
Howard noted that his players seemed more aware and were more focused on using the entire field to move the ball. Assistant coach Vincent Paparella was pleased with the team’s “stronger sense of energy and urgency to strike the ball.”
In the 22 minutes played in the second half before the game was suspended, the Raiders added two more goals to their tally. Junior forward Carlos Alcocer, who led the Raiders with 24 goals last season, launched a rocket past the goalie on the near post after dribbling down the right side of the field. Following a handball by the Bulldogs in their own box, senior Victor Lucero ended the night’s scoring on a penalty kick.
In conjunction with the Raiders’ scoring, sound defensive play and goalkeeping kept the St. Pauls players at bay. Senior keeper Marcos Acosta made three saves and, according to Howard, “did a great job.”
“I’m pleased as a coach tonight,” Howard said. “I’m a firm believer in success breeds success, and now we have no excuses to not transfer what we do in practice to the field during games.”
The junior varsity team, led by head coach Chris Larsen, got its entire game in and defeated the host team 9-0. In what he described as a “solid first game of the year,” Larsen was able to play several different lineups to help establish experience.
With nearly 20 shots on frame, freshman Mack West led all scorers with two goals. A plethora of others joined the mix, including sophomores Cole Deane and Kevyn Leviner, and freshmen Noah Aiken, Brady Edmunds, Cale Luckey, River Meacham and Trevor Moss.
“Seven of the nine goals came from freshmen, which shows great promise for guys ready to step up,” Larsen said. “Tonight’s game was a productive start to what looks to be a promising season.”
Richmond returns home Thursday to host Forest Hills High School of Union County in another early-season non-conference matchup. The varsity game is set to begin at 6 p.m.