ROCKINGHAM – Sometimes it’s best to take the good with the bad, and that’s the case for the Richmond Senior High School boys varsity soccer team following Thursday’s 4-3 loss to non-conference opponent Forest Hills High School.
Following a stellar 1-0 win against Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent Lumberton High School Wednesday, the Raiders (5-4, 2-2 SAC) showed their tired legs in the first half, quickly getting down 3-0 in the first half to the Yellow Jackets (4-4-1). But tired may they be, the Raiders fought back with resiliency.
“The positive of tonight is what that we came back from a 3-0 deficit,” head coach Bennie Howard said. “I’m proud of the boys for putting us back in the game and putting us in position to give ourselves a chance to win.
“What we may have had were some tired legs,” Howard noted. “I tried to get some fresh legs (to start the game). We fought back, but we made a lot of mistakes that hurt us in the end.”
Trailing 1-0 early, Richmond found itself having to fight back for a majority of the game. Things didn’t get much better as Richmond allowed two more goals in 3:40 span. Forest Hills’ senior forward Malik Timmons picked up both goals, each one coming on blunders by the Richmond defense.
At the 14:33 mark, Timmons aggressively charged into the left half of Richmond senior goalkeeper Ben Morrison’s box and toed in a goal on a strong cross from the right side. The Raiders had several opportunities to clear the ball, but weren’t able to do so. Morrison was replaced in net by senior goalkeeper Marcos Acosta.
In a more controversial goal, Timmons took advantage of Acosta’s and senior defenders Nick Pearson and Zane Ritter’s stoppage of play on a ball that appeared to trickle out of bounds on the end line. For just a brief moment, all four players stopped and acted like the ball was not in play. But with no whistle from the officials, Timmons played on and pooched the ball into a wide-open net with 10:53 remaining in the half.
Regardless of the play, Howard addressed his team from the sideline that they had “dug themselves a hole” and it was up to his players to fix it. And fix it they did.
Senior forward Patrick Hamilton got the Raiders on the board just over a minute later, as a visibly desperate Richmond team kicked its offense into high gear. Following several saves by Forest Hills junior goalkeeper Chris Castro, Hamilton took possession of the ball inside the box and ripped a turning shot into the net.
Senior forward Patrick Hamilton (7) scored Richmond’s first goal in Thursday’s 4-3 loss to Forest Hills.
Just 32 seconds later, Richmond continued to ride the shift in momentum, and senior midfielder Carter Roberson scored his second goal in as many games. Receiving an entry pass from Pearson, Roberson worked the left side of the field, curling around several Yellow Jackets defenders. He sent a hard grounder toward the goal that squirted into the side of the net. At the 9:06 mark, the Raiders had cut the lead to just one goal.
“Carter has been doing a great job lately,” Howard said. “We went with a 4-1-3-2 scheme, and Carter played center midfielder (tonight) without the assistance of another center mid. It wears you out, but I’m proud of the beautiful goal he scored.”
The second half saw less scoring, and senior forward Victor Lucero tied the game for the Raiders on a free kick at the 29:05 mark. The equalizer was set up by senior forward Jonathan Tadlock, who charged into the box and was tripped. Lucero rocketed a shot off the crossbar that angled itself down and behind a lunging Castro.
“We knew we started off slow, and we wanted to get back to how we know we’re capable of playing,” Roberson said. “We started applying pressure, and I wanted to get everyone involved. It doesn’t matter who scores, but I’m happy I can be part of it.”
But the feeling of relief wouldn’t last long for the Raiders.
Just 53 seconds after tying the game, the Richmond defense found itself reeling on its heels, failing to clear the ball on several missed opportunities. The Yellow Jackets netted the eventual game-winner when two Raiders “stabbed and missed” the ball, leaving a lane down the middle of the box.
Dropping its fourth game in six tries, Howard would rather be winning games, but noted that Thursday’s loss against non-conference Forest Hills could have been worse.
“This loss does go into the overall win-loss column,” Howard acknowledged. “But what’s more important is to get ourselves back together for these next two conference games and move back up the (conference standings) ladder.”
As of the time of this publication Thursday night, the current SAC standings are as follows:
1) Pinecrest (8-1-1, 4-0 SAC)
2) Jack Britt (4-5-1, 4-1 SAC)
3) Lumberton (6-2, 2-1 SAC)
4) Richmond (5-4, 2-2 SAC)
5) Hoke (2-4-3, 1-2 SAC)
6) Seventy-First (1-6, 1-2 SAC)
7) Scotland (3-8, 0-3 SAC)
8) Purnell Swett (3-4-2, 0-4 SAC)
The junior varsity team had the night off, and both teams return to play Monday, Sept. 18, 2017, as they’ll host SAC opponent Seventy-First High School. Junior varsity will start at 5:15 p.m., followed by varsity at 7 p.m.