ROCKINGHAM — Midway through the first half, Richmond Senior coach Bennie Howard told his team to get it in gear.
His players listened.
Richmond scored nine of the final 10 goals in the contest to post a 12-3 win over Purnell Swett with 6:20 remaining in the game to advance to today’s semifinal with Lumberton.
Earlier this season, the Raiders defeated the Rams 10-1 in Rockingham and 9-0 in Pembroke.
“When you play someone for the third time in a year, the way we had, you have a tendency to come out lackadaisical,” Howard said. “They had one player who had all three of their goals. We couldn’t stop him, not at least until the end. We outlasted him I guess.”
Joseph Velasquez had three goals for the Rams and Armando Garcia had three of his own to lead the Raiders and Sergio Chaparo added two more.
The pair exchanged goals in the middle of the first half during a 40-second scoring fury. With the game knotted at 1, Garcia scored on a header off a pass from Juan Onesto. Nine seconds later, Velasquez raced down the middle of the field and sent a shot past Logan Deese to tie the game. Garcia found the back of the net 29 seconds after Velasquez’s goal to give Richmond the lead for good.
Despite the victory, Howard cautioned his team it couldn’t come out flat against Lumberton like it did against Purnell Swett.
“We had to approach tomorrow with some intensity and a faster pace,” he said. “We have to stop their No. 12 (Colby Johnson). If we can stop him, we have a chance.”
In the previous meeting, the Raiders knocked off the Pirates 3-2 in Lumberton. A victory over Lumberton would send Richmond to its first SEC tournament championship contest since the league reformed in 2009. Howard couldn’t recall the last time the Raiders battled for the conference title.
“It’s been a long time,” he said.
Richmond (8-7-1) and Lumberton will play in the second semifinal game at 7 p.m. today at Scotland. Pinecrest, the regular season champion, will face Hoke at 5 p.m. The Bucks beat Scotland 5-2 in the other opening round matchup.
McFayden, Smith to tee it up
ROCKINGHAM — Two members of the Richmond Senior girls golf team will participate in today’s 4A Central Golf Regional at Pinehurst No. 1.
Cassie Smith is scheduled to begin her round at 8:27 a.m. Her teammate, Cassie McFayden, will tee up nine minutes later.
Red Rams sweep Bearcats
WADESBORO — The Hamlet Middle School volleyball team improved to 9-1 on the season with a sweep of Anson Blue Monday afternoon.
The Red Rams won the first match 25-22, 25-22. In the night cap, Hamlet claimed a 25-20, 25-16 victory. Leading the way in the sweep were: Owen Bowers with 28 service points and two aces, Altman Griffin recorded 23 service points and four aces and Trinity Stanley notched 17 service points.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.