RAEFORD – Like the old adage goes, the “third time’s a charm.”
That was the case for the Richmond Senior High School Raiders soccer team Tuesday night as it defeated Hoke County for the first time in three tries this season.
The 2-1 victory over the No. 4 Bucks couldn’t have come at a better time, as the No. 5-seeded Raiders (11-8-1) found themselves in an elimination match in the opening round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament on the road.
As the Raiders are not guaranteed a slot in the North Carolina state playoffs, Tuesday’s victory is just one step closer in securing a bid for a 4-A title. Earlier this season, Richmond fell to the Bucks (9-9-4) twice (3-2 in overtime on September 25, and 2-0 on October 9).
“It was a physical game tonight,” Howard said. “Both teams committed a few fouls, but no cards were given. But we were able to hang on and watch the clock go to zero, and the boys were happy with getting the win.”
Junior forward Carlos Alcocer netted both of Richmond’s goals in the first half, bringing his season total to 14 (he trails senior midfielder Victor Lucero by one goal). At the 17-minute mark of the first half, Alcocer broke into the scoring column as he streaked down the right side of the box and launched a sharp-angled shot past the goalkeeper.
Six minutes later, Alcocer struck again, this time scoring from the left side of 18-yard box. Hoke was able to earn its only goal of the night in the final 90 seconds of the first half after Richmond committed a foul in its own box. Hoke converted on a penalty kick.
Richmond’s senior goalkeeper Marcos Acosta had a solid night between the posts, which included stopping three other Hoke free kicks throughout the game.
Howard noted that both teams had “several opportunities” to score in the second half, but neither was able to do so.
With its win Tuesday, Howard’s Raiders will advance to the semifinal round of the SAC tournament. As it is currently the lowest-seeded team, Richmond will not get a night off before traveling to Pinecrest High School Wednesday to play the No. 1-seeded Patriots.
The Raiders are also 0-2 against the regular-season champion Patriots, having lost handily in both matchups earlier this year (5-1 on August 30, and 2-0 on October 2). Howard noted that his team will have to rebound quickly in order to play well against Pinecrest.
“We don’t really have any time to take a day off to prepare for Pinecrest,” Howard said. “We were able to win and survive tonight, and I’m interested to see what we can make happen in (Wednesday’s) game against Pinecrest.”
The Raiders’ match is set for 7:30 p.m. at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines. The Richmond Observer will have full coverage and stats following the game.