LAURINBURG — Before his team took the field against its rival Scotland, Richmond Senior coach Bennie Howard wanted another shot at the conference’s regular season champion.
Howard nearly got his wish.
Scotland used two first-half goals and overcame being a player down for the final 15 minutes to pull out a 2-1 victory over Richmond Monday night in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament. Richmond wrapped up its season with a 4-12-2 mark.
Scotland advances to face Lumberton 7 p.m. today in the semifinals. Hoke, a 5-0 winner over Purnell Swett, will take on Pinecrest in the other semifinal match.
“It’s a story of two halves,” Howard said. “You can’t only play 40 minutes. We didn’t play well in the first half and that was the difference. We came out in the second half and played better. We made it interesting.”
After falling behind by two goals at halftime, the Raiders were more aggressive on offense in the final 40 minutes but were unable to fire any shots on goal against the Scots’ Anna Griswold.
That is until Cassie McFayden put Richmond on the scoreboard midway through the second half. McFayden settled a pass outside the box on the right side of the field before lofting a shot over Griswold’s head for the goal.
Moments later as Richmond was still pressing forward looking for the tying goal, Scotland’s Olivia Bateman was issued a red card. Bateman’s ejection gave the Raiders the one-person advantage.
But the Raiders were unable to take advantage.
“They stepped it up,” Howard said about Scotland in the final 15 minutes of play. “I’m proud of the way the girls played in the second half.”
Shannon Reynolds opened the scoring for Scotland with 13:32 remaining in the first half. Like McFayden’s goal, Reynolds lofted a shot over Richmond goalkeeper Tatyona Gould for the goal. Nearly four minutes later, Kaitlyn Lewis tacked on another goal for the Scots off a feed from Deanna McLaurin.
“The girls came out tonight with a really high intensity,” Scotland coach Danny Gallaher said. “They were putting Richmond under pressure at every ball, something that we had stressed Friday at practice and really before the game.”
Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.