CAMERON — Playing for a spot in the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament championship, the Lady Raider soccer team couldn’t take down the top seed on Tuesday.
A night after winning the opening round against Hoke County, the No. 4 Lady Raiders traveled to No. 1 Union Pines.
Despite cutting its deficit in half early in the final 40 minutes of play, Richmond exited the tournament with a 5-1 loss.
“We went down early but kept battling back and forth,” head coach Chris Larsen said. “Quanna (Bostic) made some really good stops in the first half that kept us in the ball game more so than anything. She had several 1v1 stops and made sliding saves in the box.
“The girls came out with a big push in the second half, which led to our goal. It gave us that extra push we needed at the time and we battled for another 20 minutes. But after (Union Pines’) third goal, I could see the wind go out of the sails since we pushed so hard to get the first one.”
The Lady Vikings (14-7-1) scored a goal in the first two minutes of the match, which Larsen said was an eye-opener for the Lady Raiders, resulting in more dominant play.
Union Pines would score once more before the intermission, taking a 2-0 lead in the 36th minute.
Rallying at halftime, adjustments on the offensive side led to sophomore midfielder Hanna Smith netting her fifth goal of the season.
Assisted by junior midfielder Gabby Lutz, Smith made a run along the left side of the box. Powering a shot of frame, the ball went through the keeper’s hands and into the goal in the 42nd minute.
The momentum carried the Lady Raiders for much of the second half until Union Pines scored its final three goals in the final 22 minutes of the game.
“I was really pleased with the way the girls played,” Larsen said. “We played much better than we did against Hoke County, and it was our midfield that did a great job of marking up and distributing the ball to create opportunities.
“Now we sit and wait until Friday to see if we squeak into the playoffs.”
The NCHSAA is set to finalize its statewide soccer brackets on Friday. Richmond (13-8-1) is currently a bubble team that may or may not make the top 32 teams in the 4A East.
The Richmond Observer will publish a playoff preview article if the Lady Raiders qualify for the 4A East postseason.
Note: Lauren Lutz provided game information to this article.