Thursday, 17 October 2019 01:11

Hayden nets two goals in double OT win at Lumberton

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Lee Hayden (17) celebrates after his first goal in Wednesday's 2-1 double overtime win against Lumberton. Lee Hayden (17) celebrates after his first goal in Wednesday's 2-1 double overtime win against Lumberton. Kyle Pillar — The Richmond Observer.

LUMBERTON — It was deju vu for the Richmond Senior High School boys’ soccer team when it entered double overtime against Lumberton High School on Wednesday.

For the second time in two regular-season Sandhills Athletic Conference meetings this fall between the Raiders and the Pirates, 80 minutes of soccer wasn’t enough to determine a winner. But unlike the first time, senior forward Lee Hayden made sure the Raiders walked off the pitch as winners.

Hayden would find twine twice in a 2-1 thriller that saw the Raiders battle back from a one-goal deficit in the second half. Scoring his team-leading eighth and ninth goals, Hayden netted his first of the night in the 62nd minute and booted the game-winner just 2:19 into the first overtime period.

In the first meeting at Richmond on Sept. 18, the Pirates used an overtime goal to edge the Raiders by the same score.

Both teams would trade blows during a scoreless first 61 minutes of play, and Lumberton (11-9, 5-6 SAC) would take a 1-0 lead at the 18:45 mark of the second half. Alexis Lopez would take advantage of Richmond’s failure to clear the ball, and sneak a shot past junior goalkeeper Jay Ammons from inside the box.

But Hayden didn’t waste any time responding, re-entering the game following the goal, and netted his first tally of the night just 20 seconds later. Taking a pass, he dribbled into the 18-yard box for a one-on-one against goalkeeper Jackson Davis.

Davis came off his line and tried a sliding save on Hayden, but the Raider kept possession and shot a grounder into the wide open net for the equalizer.

“Lee came in and scored about 30 seconds later,” head coach Chris Larsen explained. “That’s when we really felt the tide shifting, especially when you can put the ball in the back of the net. It’s always a momentum booster to take away another team’s momentum, and we rode that for the rest of the game.

“Having been in overtime before, the guys knew what to do,” he added. “It was a good ball game and Lee was in the right place at the right time twice. I’m tickled pink that he found the back of the net after not scoring in a while.”

Hayden was quick to compliment his teammates’ efforts on the goal, saying “Noah (Jordan) laid it off to Alex (Medina), who played me a good chip. I managed to get around the keeper and slide it in. I thought I was a little quicker than (Davis), so I just went through his legs.”

Lumberton out-shot Richmond 11-4 in regulation, but it was Hayden’s fancy footwork and speed down low that would prove to be the turning point. Other players to get a ball on frame against Davis were Jordan (header attempt), and seniors Blaise Steadman and Luke Hawks.

Ammons would make a diving save on Erik Martinez in the 74th minute to preserve the tie, and senior center back Evan Baxley cleared the ball with 40 seconds remaining in regulation with Lumberton was threatening to score.

Per North Carolina High School Athletic Association rules, the Raiders (7-9-2, 7-5 SAC) and Pirates played two five-minute overtime periods. Hayden made quick work in the extra time, using a long throw in from Jordan to net the eventual game-winner in the 83rd minute.

Jordan launched the ball in from the left sideline and it found its way to Hayden inside the goalie box. He gained possession, made a touch and turned, putting the ball between the left post and Davis.

“Noah and I looked at each other and we knew we were going to run the long throw set piece,” Hayden explained. “I noticed the defense was out of position and I just made a run to the near post and managed to get it in the net.”

The Pirates wouldn’t go away without a fight, getting two more scoring chances in the final moments of overtime. A Richmond handball just outside the box saw a Lumberton free kick go wide, and a hard foul near the same spot resulted in an Ammons save on Eloy Hernandez.

“Overtime is two five-minute periods, but it flies by and seems like two two-minute periods,” Larsen explained. “Lee scoring early in overtime put us in a position to protect the lead. With both teams struggling, I dropped one of our midfielders back a little bit on defense to clog up the middle of the field.

“My guys did a good job of winning the ball when it mattered,” he closed. “This win is big because the guys have worked so hard after digging a hole early in the season. We’ve been in a majority of our conference games, and now I’m glad to see us capitalizing on opportunities in close matchups.”

Richmond now sits in fourth place in the SAC standings, and Larsen hopes a strong final week of play will see his team clinch the No. 3 spot. The Raiders will travel to Seventy-First High School (6-11, 1-10 SAC) on Monday and conclude with Scotland High School (3-12-1, 1-10 SAC) and senior night on Wednesday.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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