RAEFORD — More than 80 minutes of action was needed to decide a winner during Wednesday’s Sandhills Athletic Conference soccer match.
Rallying late on the road at Hoke County High School, the Richmond Raiders couldn’t hold onto their lead and lost 3-2 in extra time.
Hoke County took a 1-0 lead in the game’s opening 10 minutes, finding the net near post following a missed tackle.
Head coach Chris Larsen said the Bucks controlled the tempo for much of the first half, but the Raiders’ defense stood tall to take the one-goal deficit into the break.
“We switched up our tactics in the second half and we were able to get the first one to tie it up,” Larsen said. “We had a few more chances in the second half and the guys played much better.”
Junior midfielder Jesus Castro scored the equalizer in the 63rd minute on a hustle play. Running shoulder-to-shoulder with a defender, Castro gained possession of the ball and slotted it past the keeper on a rush.
With the game clock winding inside of two minutes, the Raiders were awarded a free kick between the 18-yard box and the out of bounds line. The initial shot was deflected away by Hoke County, giving Richmond a corner kick.
Castro took the kick and senior center back Luke McCormick was there to collect the loose change. Inside the box, McCormick scored his second goal in as many games to give the Raiders a 2-1 lead with 1:15 left in regulation.
Larsen said the set piece worked because Richmond “had a lot of bodies in front of the net and Luke stepped up” to give the Raiders the advantage.
Hoke County responded by pushing its numbers forward and also used a flurry of traffic in front of the net to tie the game 2-2 with 12 seconds remaining.
Per NCHSAA rules, conference opponents are awarded two 10-minute overtime periods. Neither team scored in the first overtime, and the Bucks scored the game-winning goal three minutes into the second extra stanza.
“They managed to take advantage of some mass confusion in front of the net,” Larsen explained. “We had a few more quality chances in the last seven minutes, but Hoke did a good job of managing the clock.
“I told the guys that’s the way we’ve got to play every night,” he closed. “We fought tooth and nail and I thought we’d squeak it out. The guys are upset but we’ll take it and it makes us hungrier for our next win.”
The Raiders (4-11-1, 3-6 SAC), who have lost three matches in a row, will travel to Union Pines High School (7-7-1, 5-3 SAC) on Monday. Play will begin at 7 p.m.
JV Raiders fall to JV Bucks
The Richmond junior varsity boys’ soccer team lost 1-0 to Hoke County on Wednesday. The JV Bucks scored their lone goal in the first half.
Now 3-6-4 on the season, the JV Raiders will also travel to Union Pines on Monday, starting at 5 p.m.
Note: Chris Larsen and Shannon Mabe contributed to this article.