ROCKINGHAM — For the second time this season, the Richmond boys soccer team lost to Hoke County. This time around, though, it failed to score a goal and there was no overtime.
A struggle to get decent shots on goal, and a couple of mishaps on defense, led to the Raiders dropping a 2-0 decision to the Bucks at home Monday evening — which makes it harder for them to secure a playoff spot.
“We knew coming in that we were going to have to win this one and the next three to even come close to trying to get a spot in the playoffs,” head coach Bennie Howard said. “Hats off to Hoke. Their team plays disciplined soccer and they play team soccer, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Richmond (8-7-1, 5-5-1 SAC) gave up the first goal with 2:04 left in the first half, as there was some kind of miscommunication on defense that caused senior goalkeeper Ben Morrison to “freeze in time” and allow a Hoke player to send a shot over his head for the game’s first score.
Hoke (8-6-4, 7-3-1 SAC) scored its second goal within the first 30 seconds of the second half.
“It’s just been a tough year. I never thought that it would’ve been this tough,” Howard said.
Despite the loss, Howard had a reason to smile.
A handful of players from Richmond’s 1987 boys team — the first year Howard joined the Raider soccer coaching staff — came out to surprise him and show their appreciation for all of his hard work throughout his career.
Steve Lear, who was the team’s head coach in 1987, accompanied the former Raiders and said a few words at halftime.
“It was nice to see those guys. Some of them I see because I’m coaching their children, but some of them I haven’t seen in a few years,” Howard, who’s retiring at the end of the school year, said of the surprise. “That was nice of them to come out and pay me that little tribute. It was greatly appreciated.”
As for the current squad, he doesn’t want his players to lose their competitive edge. They have three regular season games left and can still make a run to win it all in the conference tournament in two weeks.
Richmond’s next match is at Lumberton on Wednesday. It then travels to Seventy-First next Monday, Oct. 16, and wraps things up at home versus Scotland next Wednesday, Oct. 18 — which will be Senior Night.
“I hope this doesn’t deflate us to the point where we just don’t have the desire to compete. We’ve still got some games left,” he added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.