Tuesday, 13 August 2019 23:05

Raiders continue 'learning process' in two scrimmages at Hoke County

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Senior forward Luke Hawks heads the ball during Tuesday's scrimmage against Grays Creek. Senior forward Luke Hawks heads the ball during Tuesday's scrimmage against Grays Creek. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

RAEFORD — The Richmond Senior High School boys’ soccer team participated in its first and only pre-season scrimmage of the fall, traveling to Hoke County High School for two matches on Tuesday.

After a 45-minute weather delay, the Raiders faced off against Grays Creek High School and the host Bucks. Although Richmond would fall in both games, the early-season contests filled in a lot of the questions second-year head coach Chris Larsen had about the forthcoming 2019 campaign.

Both games were 40 minutes in length, splitting into two 20-minute halves. Against the Bears, Richmond would allow a second-half goal and fall by a final score of 2-1, and would later be shutout 2-0 by Hoke County.

“It was a good competition tonight,” Larsen commented. “We haven’t really had any scrimmages, even in practice, so tonight gave us a chance to play with a full squad and gave the guys the opportunity to put all the pieces together from practice.

“We’re still figuring out who is going to be where, so the biggest thing about tonight was moving guys around to see where they fit,” he added. “The ones who started were the one who had an idea of what we did last year, giving the younger guys a chance to watch and learn how each position should be played.”

Something Larsen has been adamant about the past year has been balancing playing time amongst all his players, and Tuesday was no different. All 23 of his position players, as well as all the goalkeepers, got ample playing time against the Bears and Bucks. An added bonus of the heavy rotations, Larsen explained, is “keeping people healthy and our legs fresh.”

In the first match against Grays Creek, Richmond committed a foul deep in its own end, turning the ball over. On the ensuing kick, the Bears took the ball into Richmond’s box, which resulted in a goal in a one-on-one situation in the seventh minute.

The Raiders’ offense responded just two minutes later, first seeing senior forward Luke Hawks send a shot just over the crossbar. After Grays Creek turned the ball over just outside the 18-yard box, senior striker Lee Hayden carried that momentum and deked through a wall of defenders, blasting a shot into the net to tie the game in the ninth minute.

Grays Creek would capitalize on a Richmond foul in the box to start the second half, using a penalty kick in the 25th minute to regain a 2-1 advantage. Down the stretch, the Raiders had a couple scoring chances, including near misses by senior midfielders Noah Jordan and Joey Nicholson in the 34th minute.

Hawks ripped a shot on frame three minutes later but saw it stopped, and senior midfielder Chandler Sinclair recorded the Raiders’ final scoring chance in the 38th minute, but the ball was scooped up by Grays Creek’s keeper.

After taking an hour long break to let Grays Creek and Hoke County play, the Raiders ended the night with the Bucks. Neither team would score in the first half, and the Bucks’ first goal came as a result of a penalty kick in the 22nd minute.

The final goal of the scrimmage came 10 minutes later when Hoke County managed to sneak a tight-angled shot past sophomore keeper Jaden Wilson from the right side of the box.

“I think we came out a little bit crisper in the first game,” Larsen commented. “Taking that time off between games and relaxing made us have to take the first couple minutes of the next game to find our footing. The good thing is the guys noticed what we’re doing wrong and are committed to getting better.

“Scrimmages are good for the learning process,” he closed. “We need to continue to build our team chemistry before the start of the season. Once we get in the rhythm of playing regularly, all of the small mistakes will settle themselves out.”

The Raiders will open their regular season at home next Tuesday, Aug. 20, against non-conference opponent East Mecklenburg High School. The varsity game is set for a 7 p.m. start.

ROSports will publish a season preview article in the coming week.

Kyle Pillar

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

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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