ROCKINGHAM — Richmond head boys soccer coach Bennie Howard earned his 500th career win, as the leader of both the boys and girls soccer programs, thanks to an all-around effort from his team in its regular-season finale Wednesday night.
Senior midfielder Victor Lucero recorded a hat trick in the first half and then added another score in the second half to help lead the Raiders to an 8-3 victory over conference rival Scotland on a special night.
“I’m happy for everybody who showed up tonight to see a little bit of history,” Howard said. “500 wins is something that I didn’t think would happen (when I started) 30 years ago. It’s been a lot of different players who contributed to that and I thank them immensely.”
A handful of Howard’s former players were watching in the crowd Wednesday, supporting him in what was most likely his last home game as the boys’ coach. The 30-year coaching veteran received a plaque during a small celebration at halftime.
Those in attendance were also able to witness the team’s Senior Night ceremony prior to the game. Marco Acosta, Brett Baucom, Jerry Cortes, Erick Figueroa, Patrick Hamilton, Chris Helms, Victor Lucero, Ben Morrison, Yash Patel, Nick Pearson, Zane Ritter, Carter Roberson and Jonathan Tadlock each had their own picture frames made and decorated for the final home game of their respective careers.
“There was a lot going on, but I’m happy for the seniors getting the win,” Howard said. “I told the guys that we started (the season) off pretty good, so let’s end it pretty good. And we’ve stepped in the right direction the last two ball games.”
Lucero snuck one past the Scotland goalkeeper inside the seventh minute and put the first points of the game on the scoreboard. The Scots would answer back less than a minute later, however, with a penalty kick from senior midfielder Nyjel Collins-Jackson.
Collins-Jackson would be fouled in the box a little more than two minutes after his first score, but Raider senior goalkeeper Ben Morrison was there to reject his penalty kick the second time around.
Lucero scored his second goal of the night with 12:28 left in the opening half, and then completed his hat trick inside the 29th minute thanks to an assist from Hamilton. His fourth and final goal came with 20:19 to go in the match, poking one past the opposing goalie after receiving the ball from sophomore striker Steven Morales.
“I knew it was Senior Night, and I didn’t know if this was going to be my last home game, so I was just trying to go out with a bang,” Lucero said. “It was a good win, now it’s on the next one.”
Junior Carlos Alcocer put one in the back of the net right before intermission, Baucom recorded back-to-back goals to kick off the second half, and Hamilton registered his put-back goal inside the 52nd minute.
Scotland (4-16-1, 2-10-1 SAC) scored on another penalty kick three minutes after Hamilton’s goal and then wrapped up the night with a goal from senior midfielder Donovan O’Donnell with 52 seconds left in the match.
With the win, Richmond (10-8-1, 7-6-1) secured the No. 5 seed in next week’s Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament. It will travel to Hoke County on Monday, and will need to win it all in order to make the state playoffs.
“We’ve just got to take it one game at a time,” Howard added.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. at 910-817-2673 and follow the sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.
The Richmond boys soccer team brought out fake mustaches, mocking head coach Bennie Howard, after an 8-3 victory over Scotland in its regular-season finale Wednesday night.