ROCKINGHAM — It was a tale of two halves for the Richmond girls soccer team on Monday.
An “impatient” start to the game on offense, which included some forced attempts at long balls and crosses, kept the Lady Raiders off the scoreboard for the majority of the first half and resulted in them trailing for almost 10 minutes.
Once they began “knocking the ball around,” however, it was smooth sailing.
Richmond (3-0, 1-0 SAC) had three players score at least one goal in a 4-1 win over Purnell Swett in its conference opener. Sophomore midfielder Valery Standridge knocked in two goals after the break, junior midfielder Chloe Wiggins scored the team’s first goal, and senior striker Hanna Millen snuck one past the opposing goalie in the 69th minute.
“In the first half, we were impatient. We started playing long balls and we couldn’t get to them. We got the ball wide, got some crosses, but we couldn’t get anybody there,” head coach Bennie Howard said. “Once we started the second half and started knocking the ball around, the game opened up for us.
“You can play the long ball every now and then, but you can’t do it 87 percent of the time,” he added.
Purnell Swett (2-1, 0-1 SAC) got on the board first when sophomore midfielder Abigail Lowry received a lead-out pass from teammate Layla Locklear and got the ball past Richmond goalkeeper Allexis Swiney, who lunged forward in an attempt to knock the ball. Lowry’s goal gave the away team a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.
Wiggins, who came close but couldn’t connect on two earlier goals, knotted the game at 1-1 with her second goal of the season at the 6:31 mark in the first half. Neither team would score again in the opening half.
Coming out of halftime, the Lady Raiders made a defensive adjustment — that proved beneficial — by marking up on Lowry and switching to a 4-1-4-1 look. From then on, they were able to maintain a “much-improved” Purnell Swett team.
Standridge broke the tie with a score in the 59th minute, Millen raced past a handful of defenders to notch her first goal of the season nearly 10 minutes later, and then Standridge put the final touches on the game with another goal with 7:31 left in the game.
“I’m pleased with the way we came back,” Howard said. “To start 1-0 in the conference, that’s what we want. We’re all on the same page and hopefully this can continue … I couldn’t ask for a better start (to the season).”
Richmond will look to stay undefeated when it hosts conference foe Pinecrest at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.