Home Local Sports Senior night comeback falls short for Raiders

Senior night comeback falls short for Raiders

Senior Luke McCormick celebrates with Gonzalo Gonzalez (20) following his goal on Monday. (Kyle Pillar, sports editor)

ROCKINGHAM — Knocking on the door in the final minutes of Monday’s match, the Richmond Senior High School soccer team almost escaped with a crucial victory.

Erasing a two-goal halftime deficit, the Raiders tied their match against Pinecrest High School but suffered a 4-2 defeat.

Ahead of the match, head coach Chris Larsen and assistant coach Bennie Howard recognized the Raiders’ nine senior players on senior night. Each player was escorted by family members and received a flag with Richmond’s crest on it.

This year’s seniors were: Gerardo Aguirre, Gaberial Alves, Tyler Berry, Jullian Cline, Ayden Mabe, Luke McCormick, Ethan McDonald, Jeremiah McLean and Bryan Morales.

“It’s always bittersweet, and you always want to win on senior night,” Larsen said. “The guys put up a fight and showed grit. Some of these guys have been with the program for three or four years, and it was good to see them get recognized for their contributions to the team.”

Falling behind 2-0 in the first half, Richmond saw Eric Sabiston score both of the Patriots’ goals in the first half. He tapped his first goal in during the 6th minute and followed with a strike from 20 yards in the 17th minute. 

Keeping the Patriots off the board the remainder of the first half, the Raiders carried that momentum into the second 40-minute period.

Junior striker James Eason would help start the comeback when he fired a goal into the net in the 61st minute. Taking a touch to create space, Eason’s shot from 30 yards hit the keeper’s hands and deflected into the net.

Cutting the deficit in half, senior center back Luke McCormick was rewarded with his first goal of the fall in the 82nd minute. A cross into the box was deflected to McCormick, who collected the ball and flipped it over the keeper to knot the game 2-2.

Pinecrest answered less than 90 seconds later with the eventual game-winning tally by Chris Pasuukan. Adding an insurance goal with just under three minute remaining was Joey DiCarlo.

Larsen attributed “a much better second half” performance as the reason why the Raiders were able to make it competitive.

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“I laid it on the guys pretty good at halftime and they came out with a little bit more fire,” Larsen said. “With more hustle, we were able to break the ice with the first goal from James, which was our first true opportunity on goal.

“That gave us a fighting chance and Luke was able to beat the keeper to tie it up,” he added. “We fought back and gave ourselves an opportunity. But another mistake in the back cost us a goal and we pushed numbers forward to try and get the third equalizer but couldn’t.”

The Raiders (4-10-1, 3-5 SAC) will try to get back in the win column on Wednesday with a road match at Hoke County High School (6-7, 2-5 SAC).

Richmond won the first meeting 2-1, and a second victory over the Bucks would help the Raiders’ playoff chances. The game is set to begin at 7 p.m.

JV Raiders draw even with Pinecrest

Ahead of the varsity match, the Richmond junior varsity soccer team finished in a 2-2 draw with the JV Patriots.

Richmond held two one-goal leads, starting with a tally from freshman Jose Garcia in the 8th minute. The JV Raiders took a 2-1 lead into the break when freshman Cayden Gillenwater found the back of the net. 

Pinecrest scored the equalizer in the 41st minute. 

“To lose by three goals to them earlier in the season and finish tonight tied, it was a big improvement,” Howard said. “I’m proud of the guys and they showed some fight tonight.

“Hopefully this builds some momentum when we play Hoke County on Wednesday.”

Richmond (3-5-4) will also travel to play the JV Bucks on Wednesday at 5 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.