ROCKINGHAM — Making a play to be in the top three spots of the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings near the midway point of the season, the Richmond Senior High School soccer team couldn’t pull off the comeback on Monday.
Playing the first of three home matches this week, the Raiders came up short 6-1 against Lee County High School.
Entering the night in third place, the loss to the second-place Yellow Jackets dropped the Raiders into fifth place.
With the score knotted 1-1 at halftime, Richmond’s defense surrendered five unanswered goals in the final 40 minutes of play.
Scoring for the Raiders was sophomore forward Memphis Jacobs, which was his second tally of the season.
“We made a mistake early and didn’t mark up well on a corner and gave up a goal early,” head coach Chris Larsen said. “But I was pleased we were able to battle back and tie it up. We knocked the ball around pretty well and really made a push.
“(Lee County) had more possessions and a few more opportunities than we did, but what matters is we got a quality goal. Memphis scored what I call a big-time goal and gave us some momentum.”
An early miscue on defense by Richmond gave the Yellow Jackets a lead in the fourth minute.
Allowing a corner kick from the right side, one of six corners taken by Lee County in the first half, a redirect by Hector Rodriguez made it into the net past a diving Adrian Padron.
Senior forward James Eason had a pair of scoring chances in the next few minutes. The first attempt from 10 yards was stopped when goalkeeper Nicholas Rodriguez sat on the ball.
On another rush, this one from the right side, Eason sent a shot on frame that trickled wide after a deflection by N. Rodriguez.
The Raiders’ lone corner in the opening 40 minutes was sent in by junior Landon Summerlin, which was punched out.
Richmond evened the score in the 30th minute when Jacobs found twine. Senior midfielder Jesus Castro started the play by switching the field left to right to senior midfielder Samuel Hawks.
Taking a touch, Hawks slid it to senior Matteo Rubbiano, who weaved through a trio of defenders. His shot was deflected, which found Jacobs at the top of the box.
Bending the shot around two Lee County players, Jacobs’ goal sliced inside the right netting to tie it 1-1.
Rubbiano made a stop with his body against H. Rodriguez in the 35th minute to keep the score even at the break.
The second half belonged to the Yellow Jackets (6-4, 3-1 SAC) and Irvin Gutierrez, who scored four of the team’s five goals.
After Gutierrez’s first goal made it 2-1 in the 44th minute, Summerlin nearly scored a goal six minutes later on a bouncing ball inside the box. But it hit the netting out of bounds before he could score.
That was one of Richmond’s few quality chances on goal in the second half, as goals from Gutierrez in the 62nd, 65th and 71st minutes put Lee County up 5-1.
Scoring the Yellow Jackets’ final goal was Christopher Gomez in the 72nd minute. After that goal, Padron was replaced in between the posts by senior Edwin Estrada.
“Unfortunately we created another mistake four minutes into the second half and let them go ahead 2-1,” Larsen commented. “We held on for a little while longer, but after the third goal we dropped our heads and gave up two more pretty quickly after that.
“This is a learning experience and we’ll watch it on film,” he closed. “We just gave them too much space around the 18 and too many free looks. Lee County is a good finishing team and they put the ball in the back of the net.”
Larsen and the Raiders (4-4-1, 2-2-1 SAC) will take a break from conference action and play two non-conference matches later in the week.
First will be Montgomery Central (5-2-1) on Wednesday, followed by Sun Valley (4-2-1) on Thursday. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m.
JV Raiders tie late
Thanks to a late-match goal, the Richmond junior varsity soccer team escaped with a draw against Lee County on Monday.
The JV Raiders ended in a 2-2 draw with the JV Yellow Jackets.
Both teams scored a goal in the first half, with Richmond’s being scored in the opening minute. That goal was credited to sophomore Erick Jimenez, who was the closest player to the ball as a result of a JV Yellow Jackets own-goal.
Lee County tied it up and later took a 2-1 lead in the second half before freshman midfielder Cole Lambeth knotted it up.
Putting the pressure on late, Lambeth sent a left-footed strike into the upper corner of the net with 2:37 left in regulation.
Sophomore goalkeeper Camden Williams, who played the whole match, made one final contested stop to preserve the draw.
“It was a tale of two halves,” head coach Bennie Howard said. “We played well in the first half and then we took our foot off the gas. We played soft and didn’t do the simple things like winning the first or second ball.
“Cole’s goal was a great shot into the upper right corner. It was a loss-saving goal at the right time.”
The JV Raiders (4-1-3, 3-0-2 SAC) will also host Montgomery Central and Sun Valley later in the week. Those matches will start at 5 p.m.