Home Local Sports Raiders Boys Soccer Falls to Pinecrest; Lose 5-1

Raiders Boys Soccer Falls to Pinecrest; Lose 5-1

Senior forward Victor Lucero scored Richmond's lone goal in Wednesday's 5-1 loss to rival Pinecrest.
Photo courtesy of Jimmy McDonald.

ROCKINGHAM – Any time the Richmond Senior High School boys soccer team plays Pinecrest High School, the hype and anticipation often exceeds most other matchups. But the Raiders’ high hopes were quickly deflated Wednesday night, as the Patriots silenced their host 5-1.

Richmond (4-2, 1-1) did a complete 180-degree flip from its 9-0 win Monday against Purnell Swett High School. Pinecrest (4-1-1, 2-0) dominated play from the very beginning, scoring its first goal of the night in the first five minutes of the game.

Scoring early and often, Pinecrest crushed Richmond’s hopes of going undefeated for the second straight year in Sandhills Athletic Conference play. Head coach Bennie Howard acknowledged his team lacked hustle and the ability to make fundamental plays, such as touches, passes and “hitting their spots.”

“We played tight in the first half, and we made some mistakes that cost us some goals,” Howard noted. “We didn’t mark up well, which cost us another goal. Our touches and passes weren’t good enough tonight.”

The Patriots scored three of its five goals in the first half, with their second and third goals coming in a 4:30 span. At 28:57, senior forward Ryan Green scored his first of two goals when he beat Richmond’s defense down the right side of the field. Cutting back toward the center of the box, Green ripped a shot that rifled over Richmond senior goalkeeper Marcos Acosta’s diving hands.

Just minutes later, at the 24:27 mark, Pinecrest’s senior center back Christopher Everett slipped through a deteriorating Richmond defense to find himself all alone in the box. The Raider’s failed “to match up,” thus letting Everett dribble toward a charging Acosta before chipping it into the back of the net.

Richmond’s offense struggled all night, and didn’t register its first shot on net until there was 3:15 remaining in the first half. But more apparent was the entire team’s inability to function together. Lacking ball management and spatial awareness, the Raiders failed to connect on routine plays, thus providing Pinecrest with a surfeit amount of offensive opportunities.

The second half wasn’t much better for Richmond, as they quickly found themselves in their biggest deficit of the season when it afforded Pinecrest its fourth consecutive goal. The Raiders defense sloppily failed to clear the ball out of their own end, and Green took advantage, finagling his way into the box and sending a bouncing shot off of a sprawling Acosta into the net.

Howard removed Acosta from between the posts with 33:45 left in the second half, replacing him with senior backup Yash Patel.

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Finally catching a breath of fresh air, the Raiders offense managed to salvage their poor play when senior Victor Lucero scored on a rebound opportunity following back-to-back corner kicks at 25:37. Junior defender Nolan Allen corralled the wide corner kick, sending a bouncing ball into the box where Lucero flicked it over Pincrest goalkeeper Patrick Nieves’ head.

“Before the game, I told our guys that we needed to play hard,” Lucero said. “But we came out little soft in the first half. The second half was a little better for us. We adjusted by remaining calm and trying to play out of the backfield. But it’s obvious we need to work on conditioning drills because we got beat on that tonight.”

The night’s scoring concluded when Pinecrest added its fifth and final goal on a free kick with 13:24 remaining.

After Wednesday’s loss, the Raiders fall into a tie for third place with Hoke County High School in SAC standings at 1-1. Lumberton High School and Pinecrest are atop the standings with a 2-0 conference record, and Jack Britt High School sits alone in the two spot with a 2-1 record.

“Pinecrest is a good team,” Howard said. “They had an off year last year, but I give them credit. We are better than we showed tonight. We have a long way to go and a short time to get there. But we’re going to come out tomorrow and work hard.”

Richmond’s junior varsity team also lost to Pinecrest, failing to score a goal in a 2-0 loss. In a back-and-forth game that saw several scoring chances, the Raiders (2-3) allowed a goal late in each half. Junior varsity head coach Chris Larsen is still pleased with his team’s effort despite losing.

“Even though we lost,” Larsen said, “I think our guys played really well. Pinecrest is a tough program, and we are a young team. We had an opportunity late to tie it up, and that would have changed the tempo of the game. But we had some mix ups; and we didn’t capitalize. My guys should keep their heads up because we have another chance to play them later in the season.”

The Raiders will return to play Wednesday. Sept. 6, 2017, on the road at Jack Britt (2-5-1, 2-1). Junior varsity will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by varsity at 7 p.m.

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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.