ROCKINGHAM — Unlike its efforts earlier in the week, the Richmond Raider soccer team wasn’t able to erase a small deficit on Wednesday.
Two nights after picking up a crucial 4A Sandhills Athletic Conference win over Hoke County, the Raiders suffered a 3-1 loss to conference opponent Union Pines.
Richmond managed to fire off nine shots on net against goalkeeper Liam Thayer, but head coach Chris Larsen said two mistakes cost the team and led to goals for the Vikings (4-5-1, 2-1 SAC).
“We didn’t play our best game tonight,” Larsen said. “We had a few really good chances but they had a good goalie in the back that we’re not going to score easily on. We had a couple off the post, but collectively as a whole, it was an off night for us.
“We play in a conference where if we have an off night, there are enough tough teams that will take advantage of it. We can’t not show up and expect to win.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Adrian Padron made a sliding 1v1 save in the fifth minute, and senior center back Jeremiah McLean made a sweeping clear in the box to alleviate pressure a few minutes later.
Despite some early looks on frame by the Raiders, Union Pines took a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute. Gabe Phillips found the net on a turning shot from 10 yards.
In the 35th minute, Bobby Pharris gave the Vikings a two-goal advantage on a rush inside the box.
Senior forward Jullian Cline made a charge on frame on a counter attack with just under three minutes to play. Beating Thayer off his line, Cline’s shot banked off the right post and out of bounds.
Rewarded with 32 seconds left before the half, Cline scored Richmond’s lone goal of the match. Running a similar play, Cline split a pair of defenders into open space to boot the ball low and hard into the net.
Most of the second half was a back-and-forth affair seeing both teams trade possessions and runs down the field. Padron made an athletic save on a strike by Brody Muhly early in the half, and junior midfielder Jesus Castro cleared the ball with his head following a corner.
Padron again made two more saves, one sliding and one punching, against Pharris and David Perez to maintain the one-goal deficit.
Castro, Danny Jaimes and Noah Williams all sent shots on frame in the closing 20 minutes, but Thayer made the stops.
Adding the final goal for the Vikings was Perez, finishing a run down the right side and sending the ball inside the near post in the 75th minute.
“I’m glad JuJu broke it and got us back in the game before halftime,” Larsen said. “There were still some good things we did tonight like move the ball around and defensively we made smart plays against what they were doing.
“Two mistakes cost us two goals and the third goal was the icing on the cake. We’ll regroup with two days of practice and gear back up for Lee County and two non-conference opponents after that.”
Richmond (3-6-1, 2-2 SAC) will prepare for a three match week, starting with another conference match against defending SAC champion Lee County High School (5-3-3, 2-0-1 SAC).
The Raiders and Yellow Jackets will square off on Monday at 7 p.m.
JV Raiders collect first conference win
Three different goal scorers found the back of the net in the JV Raiders’ 3-2 win over Union Pines on Monday.
As part of a first half that went into intermission tied 1-1, Daryan Mendez collected an assist on a goal by Juan Garcia.
Richmond took a 2-1 lead thanks to a goal by Erick Jimenez, and breaking a late-game tie with two minutes left was a goal from Memphis Jacobs.
“We were fortunate to take advantage of a mistake with two minutes left and get the win,” coach Bennie Howard said. “It’s nice to get that first conference win. Hopefully this will wake us up as we get ready for Lee County.”
The JV Raiders (2-3-2, 1-2 SAC) will travel to Lee County and play at 5 p.m. on Monday.