ROCKINGHAM — Peppering the goal with “ample opportunities” the Raider soccer team had just one too many unlucky breaks on Thursday.
A busy week for Richmond came to an end with a non-conference loss in a match that saw the team hold a second-half lead.
Playing on back-to-back nights, and their third match in four days, the Raiders fell to visiting Sun Valley High School 4-2.
Two separate one-goal leads were erased by the Spartans in the second half.
“We played a great first half and were able to score on a great PK,” head coach Chris Larsen said. “Gonzalo (Morales) is now 3-for-3 and our PK specialist, which is why we elected to let him shoot. We had a lot of chances to score and we picked up where we left off from Wednesday.
“We switched the ball and won possessions. I changed some things like where we were pressing and where we were stepping in the attacking third, and that opened up some more passing lanes.”
Before the Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute thanks to a PK from Morales following a handball in the box, they had seven quality chances on frame.
In the opening 10 minutes, junior Landon Summerlin had a header wide, junior Noah Gil sent a low shot that was stopped and senior James Eason connected on a cross from senior Jesus Castro that went just left of the far post.
Junior goalkeeper Adrian Padron also made a handful of tough saves in the opening 40 minutes, including a falling save on a free kick in the fourth minute. He also stopped a shot on the doorstep a few minutes later.
Between the 14th and 22nd minutes, freshman Daniel Gomez sent a shot right into the keeper’s chest, Castro added two more scoring chances and Morales went just wide on a corner kick from Summerlin.
Padron preserved the lead by punching away a shot in the 32nd minute that was cleared by senior Danny Jaimes. Eason had three quick chances, including an opportunity off a corner, followed by a close range shot and another banger off the left post.
Larsen told the Raiders to keep up the pressure in the second half and to expect Sun Valley (6-3-1) to continue to fight. Richmond held up its end before allowing three unanswered goals in the final 16 minutes.
Gil and Gomez each had shots from near the net that just missed to open the second half. Tying the game in the 50th minute was Mani Flores Melchor.
The scoring chances kept coming for Richmond, which saw Summerlin and Gil make header attempts on goal. Castro went just to the right of the net on a turning shot from the top of the 18-yard box and Padron charged out of the box on a 1v1 to force a shot to the left.
Hawks gave Richmond a 2-1 lead in the 62nd minute when he scored his second goal in two games. Senior Matteo Rubbiano slid the ball out of the middle of the box back to Hawks who was waiting on the right wing.
Taking a touch, Hawks ripped the ball into the back of the net from 15 yards for his third tally of the season.
“Samuel stayed wide and put it in the back of the net, which was good to see him step up again,” Larsen said. “I thought that would break their spirits, but we made a mistake and let them tie it up. Then they took that momentum and ran with it.
“We couldn’t get out of our own way the last 15 minutes. A little bit of that is playing three games this week and it’s demoralizing to get that leading goal and let it slip away so quickly.”
Just 1:22 later, Vincent Gallardo scored the equalizer for the Spartans. He netted another goal on a blast from 20 yards in the 67th minute to give the visitors a 3-2 lead.
Sun Valley’s final goal came in the 69th minute on a shot from Jayden Crespo that deflected off Padron’s outstretched hands.
Senior goalkeeper Edwin Estrada played the final eight minutes and made two quality saves.
“I told the guys this is a building game,” Larsen closed. “It’s a solid non-conference competition for us and it sets the bar for where we want to be as we get ready to start the second round of conference play.
“I’m hoping we’ve got a goal to work for. We’ve competed in every game and it’s a matter of time before we get over that hump. Once we do, there’s no telling what’s there to stop us but ourselves.”
Richmond (5-5-1, 2-2-1 SAC) is set to close the first round of Sandhills Athletic Conference play on Monday at Scotland High School (1-5-1, 0-5 SAC). Varsity will start at 7 p.m.
JV Raiders lose lead late
Ahead of the varsity match, the Richmond junior varsity soccer team let a late lead result in a draw.
Also playing Sun Valley, the JV Raiders tied the JV Spartans 3-3.
Richmond took a 2-1 lead into halftime. Sophomore forward Dougie Dickinson stayed hot, scoring both goals, making it five goals in two nights.
Freshman midfielder Cole Lambeth netted Richmond’s final goal on a penalty kick following a handball in the box.
Sun Valley managed to cut its deficit and tie the game in the final minute.
“We had a good week,” head coach Bennie Howard said. “Playing three quality teams, we managed a 1-0-2 record.
“Now we get some time off to practice and get ready for a big match next week.”
The JV Raiders (5-1-4, 2-0-3 SAC) will get an extended break and play at Southern Lee next Wednesday, beginning at 5 p.m.