Wednesday, 01 May 2019 23:15

No. 2 Lady Raiders punch ticket to third-straight conference title game behind McDougald's two goals

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Sophomore jayla McDougald scored two goals to help the Lady Raiders advance to the SAC tournament title game. Sophomore jayla McDougald scored two goals to help the Lady Raiders advance to the SAC tournament title game. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — For the second time in three nights, the Richmond Senior High School girls’ soccer team defeated Jack Britt High School.

Wednesday’s match carried a little more weight, as the No. 2 Lady Raiders took the wind out of the No. 3 Lady Buccaneers’ sails with a 5-2 victory in the opening round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.

It was the third time the two clubs met this spring, and head coach Chris Larsen’s team completed the season series sweep of its Fayetteville rival. Richmond also beat Jack Britt in the semifinals in last season’s conference tournament.

“It’s hard to play a team three times and have the same outcome,” Larsen commented after the game. “It’s even tougher to do in back to back games and win. Jack Britt made some adjustments (from Monday), but just didn’t capitalize on its chances.

“We made our own slight adjustments tonight and it was a lot like Monday,” he added. “We dominated possession and controlled the tempo of the game. Jack Britt didn’t lay down, and we really had to earn it tonight.”

Sophomore forward Jayla McDougald would score a game-high two goals, her fifth and sixth goals of the campaign. She marked the sixth Lady Raider to have at least five goals this season.

Also adding scores were senior forward Jessi Graham (16), junior defender Avy Lucero (6) and junior midfielder Emily Buie (1).

Lucero scored the game’s first goal on a direct kick from 30 yards out in the 31st minute. Following a Jack Britt foul, she laced a shot through traffic and beat Lady Bucs’ goalkeeper Rebecca Karris in the bottom right corner.

That would serve as the only goal of the first half, and Jack Britt tied things up in the 48th minute on a free kick just outside the 18-yard box.

McDougald would record the next two goals for Richmond, starting with a tapper in front of the net in the 56th minute. The eventual game-winning goal was a header by McDougald, as she bumped in a cross from senior Chloe Wiggins in the 64th minute.

“Jayla was all over it the other night and she finally found the net tonight,” Larsen said. “She gained confidence during Monday’s game and that helped her tonight. Her game-winner was really nice on a beautiful cross from Chloe.”

With time winding down, Jack Britt (10-7) scored its second goal on a cross in the 67th minute. A minute later, Graham would add the first of two insurance goals for Richmond, corralling a deflection off of Karris.

Buie, who usually plays in the backfield, tacked on the second insurance goal in the 69th minute. She gained possession of the ball amongst a cluster of players in front of the net and beat Karris to seal the deal and send Richmond to the title game.

“Emily scored her first of the season and it was a solidifying goal for us,” Larsen said. “It was good for her to add her name on the score sheet. From that point on, we played more of a defensive game. I couldn’t ask the girls to play harder than they did.”

The win moves the Lady Raiders (15-3) into their third-straight conference tournament championship game, and will face SAC leader Pinecrest High School (21-0-1). Richmond has fallen to the Lady Patriots in each of the last two title bouts.

“I told the girls I don’t want them to show up with the same mind set from the other two games,” Larsen noted of the two mercy-rule losses to Pinecrest this season.”I reminded them of the first half of the first game when our girls played so hard.

“The score doesn’t always indicate how well we play,” he concluded. “We’ll start the game and see how many quality minutes we can get. Form there, we’ll play in spurts, take the momentum from this week and hopefully come with a championship.”

Kickoff at Pinecrest is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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