Richmond High School’s Nick Adams (7) gets knocked to the ground by Rangeley High School’s Mathieu Lessard (21) with the help from teammate Nolan Boone (9) in Rangeley on Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
RANGELEY — Nobody was more surprised than Richmond sophomore Andrew Vachon.
Vachon scored four goals Saturday afternoon, completing his hat trick before the match was 22 minutes old, to help the Richmond boys’ soccer team roll to a season-opening 7-1 victory over Rangeley in the East/West Conference season opener for both teams. Dakota Gilpatric added a pair of goals in the win, while Justin Vachon wrapped the scoring for the Bobcats, the defending Class D South champion.
With so many key pieces missing from that regional championship run last fall, this is a new Richmond team, one which passed a less than stern test with flying colors.
“Whenever people would ask me how do I think the team’s going to do this year, I’d say, ‘Well, we lost a lot of people last year. It’s a rebuilding year,’” Andrew Vachon said. “I was very surprised today with what happened. We were struggling a bit during preseason to find our places, but we finally found them.”
Richmond coach Pete Gardner understands his team is not yet a finished product, but he likes how the players are learning to find their own identity now with a younger, inexperienced lineup.
“It’s them making their own history and not depending on what’s happened in the past,” Gardner said. “To see how they worked together as a unit and what they’re going to have to do (this season), I thought they came out and did a lot of good things.”
The goal-scoring was nice, to be certain, but the one-sided nature of the match could be found in numerous ways.
The Bobcats outshot the Lakers 29-1 for the 80 minutes, produced 10 corner kicks to none for the hosts and played virtually the entire match in the attacking half of the pitch.
When Rangeley’s Leo Perez scored on his team’s only shot just seconds short of the final whistle, it served as the only wrinkle in Richmond’s well-laid plans.
“It’s really different,” said senior center midfielder Danny Stewart, previously a two-year fixture at back for the Bobcats. “We have kind of the same core, and we have the same work ethic and all the same things that made those last teams so good, so it’s a little similar.
“We worked very hard on defense. I liked that every single time we lost the ball, we were going back and trying to steal it back. We had that will, and I really liked seeing that.”
Vachon got Richmond going early. In the 11th minute he curled a long shot from the left side over Rangeley keeper Garrett Burgess (eight saves), three minutes later he converted a penalty kick and on 21 minutes he broke in from close range for an easy one-vs.-one finish which made it 3-0.
Gilpatrick scored his two goals (37th minute, 40th minute) before the half was through to send the Bobcats into the break breezing along at 5-0.
Vachon, who scored 18 goals as a freshman in a supporting role a year ago, capped the first four-goal game of his career in the 80th minute after his older brother, Justin, sprung him free from the left side of the 18-yard box.
“I’m satisfied with everything the kids did today,” Gardner said. “What I talked to our kids about is wanting them to do whatever our team tactic is and not get into, ‘I’m going to score, I’m going to score.’ That’s hard to take back from kids, but I thought for the most part they did a nice job with that.”
Rangeley High School goalie Garrett Burgess (8) gives up a goal to Richmond High School in Rangeley on Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Richmond High School’s Nick Adams (7) collides with Rangeley High School goalie Garrett Burgess (8) in Rangeley on Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)