Monday, 25 October 2021 21:27

First-round exit in SAC tournament ends Raiders' season

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Sophomore James Eason (13) high-fives junior Jullian Cline after scoring in the first half. Sophomore James Eason (13) high-fives junior Jullian Cline after scoring in the first half. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

SANFORD — The Richmond Senior High School boys’ soccer team made a first-round exit in the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament on Monday.


The 5-2 loss on the road at No. 3 Southern Lee High School ended the season for the No. 6 Raiders and head coach Chris Larsen.

Unable to contain the middle of the box, Richmond surrendered three goals in the first half and two more in the final 40 minutes of play.

The Raiders’ offense scored on goal in the first half, and made a late push with several scoring chances, but managed to score just one goal in the second stanza.

“Even though we lost and our season is done, we were finally starting to figure it out,” Larsen said. “Some of the guys were out for the two weeks and that hit us at the wrong time of the season. 

“The guys fought as hard as they could and we played the full 80 minutes tonight,” he continued. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. We had a few chances, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Southern Lee scored from the middle of the 18-yard box on all five of its goals, starting with two from Isaac Mireles in the 4th and 9th minutes. Adding a goal before the intermission was Juan Liendo in the 14th minute.

Sophomore James Eason, who was called up to varsity a couple of weeks ago, put the Raiders on the board in the 8th minute. Senior Justin McDougald played a long ball out of the back on a counterattack, finding Eason in the middle of the field.

Eason made a move around a defender to get possession one-on-one with goalkeeper Danis Cabrera. Sliding the ball past Cabrera, Eason sent a shot into a wide-open net to tie the game at 1-1, his third goal of the season.

Trailing 3-1, freshman call-up Noah Gil nearly scored in the 16th minute, sending a header off the left post that deflected wide.

Junior goalkeeper Ethan McDonald got the start for Richmond and made a handful of saves in the first half. He left the match in the 33rd minute after sustaining an injury on a slide tackle that resulted in a yellow card for Southern Lee.

To start the second half, Eason sent a shot just wide in the 48th minute. Less than a minute later, Jose Hernandez scored to put the Cavaliers (11-6-1, 8-4-1 SAC) up 4-1.

Scoring the final goal against backup goalkeeper Adrian Padron was Joshua Garcia in the 54th minute. Senior goalkeeper Ian Williams played the remaining 25 minutes in net, shutting out Southern Lee.

Junior Naaman Perakis had a header attempt on net in the 58th minute, and Gil sent a shot wide left in the 68th minute to help keep the Raiders’ offensive pressure on.

Rewarded for his efforts, Gil scored his first varsity goal in the 78th minute for Richmond’s final goal of the season. McDougald sent a shot on frame from 10 yards that was saved by Cabrera, and there to collect the loose ball was Gil, who tapped it into the net.

McDougald nearly cut the deficit to two goals with 1:40 to play, but his shot was saved by the keeper.

“I was able to bring up a couple of younger guys late in the season like James and Noah, and it was good for them to score tonight,” Larsen said. “Coach (Bennie) Howard did a good job of preparing them for varsity and they got to see what the next level is like.

“Their experience, along with the other guys, will pay dividends for us moving forward.”

Richmond finished its first season in the 3A/4A SAC with a 4-14-1 overall record and was 2-10-1 against conference opponents. The Raiders earned wins over Pine Forest, Cape Fear, Union Pines and Scotland high schools.

Richmond scored 35 goals (1.84 goals per game) and allowed 4.6 goals against per each match. The Raiders scored a season-high six goals twice against Cape Fear and Scotland.

Based on its current roster, Richmond will return 16 players next fall, losing 10 seniors to graduation.

“We know we can’t always come out on top, and that’s the way this year went,” Larsen said. “The guys stuck it out and played each match, and hopefully that encourages the guys coming back to work hard in the offseason and get better.

“They got to see what our conference will be like for the next handful of years until realignment. We’re just going to have to bring out A game.”

Below are season stat leaders, according to MaxPreps:

Goals

Luke Williams (7)

Jesus Castro (4)

Alex Medina (4)

Pedro Molina (4)

James Eason (3)

Assists

Alex Medina (5)

Luke McCormick (2)

Pedro Molina (2)

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

Twitter: ROSports_