Richmond’s Dakota Gilpatrick dives over Buckfield goalie Rick Krashe after he made a save on a goal kick during the first half of Tuesday’s soccer match in Buckfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)
BUCKFIELD — From the opening kick to the final whistle, the Richmond boys’ soccer team could not convert on close and even open chances at goal.
The inability to capitalize on great corners, crosses and through passes, coupled with a penalty kick scored by Buckfield’s Noah Wiley, led to a 1-0 win for the Bucks on Tuesday.
“The first half, with the opportunities we had that should have been finishes would take a little bit of that pressure off,” Richmond (8-5-1) head coach Peter Gardner said. “They did what they needed to do in packing it in. We didn’t react positively to that.”
Buckfield (10-3) played a compact, gang-style defense when Richmond was attacking but was not shy when counter-attacking on offense. Buckfield head coach Kyle Rines said that is a major part of the Bucks’ game.
“We are a counter-attacking team, but we only had four defensemen and the rest were midfielders coming back,” Rines said. “It was good, we were able to get the ball forward and make some good plays and we had lots of good chances.”
The beginning of the game was a grudge match, with each team getting chances at goal. The first half had 14 total shots on goal between the two Class D South schools, so both teams knew the importance of each shot.
That sentiment was brought to a head with two minutes remaining in the first half when Wiley went down in the penalty box after a tackle. Wiley stepped up to the penalty spot with the game still scoreless and had one thing on his mind: Score.
“Don’t overthink it,” Wiley said. “When you overthink it you tend to overshoot it or shoot it to the left or right. I tried not to think about it too much, and if you strike it hard enough in the center it will go in.”
The penalty was a point of contention for Gardner, who spent a couple of minutes after the score talking to a referee about a possible dive by Wiley.
“When you set things up to happen, and every piece of it happens, and the end result doesn’t happen then that gets a little frustrating for the kids,” Gardner said. “The call on that side was not a good call, but it’s a call that happens in games so you just have to move through it.”
After the penalty, Richmond’s attacks became more urgent, but Buckfield’s focus also heightened.
Just three minutes into the second half, Richmond’s Nick Adams crossed a beautiful pass in front of goal for Dakota Gilpatric, but the shot was shot too high, a trend that hampered Richmond all match.
“It was a huge shift (even) before we got the goal,” Wiley said. “They came out with a lot of energy like we expected, but we had to turn on that switch to stay aggressive. After the goal we played more defensively because we know they can score.”
As Wiley acknowledged, Richmond didn’t quit. Its offense kept attacking, with Adams making play after play to try and will a ball into the back of the net. Buckfield goalkeeper Rick Kraske made 10 saves, however, and Richmond missed many shots wide.
The win puts Buckfield in third in the Class D South standings, which allows the Bucks to host a home playoff game.
“We talked about having to play a full 80, and whenever you play them you have to ply a full 80,” Rines said. “We played exactly how I wanted them to play. We don’t know (if we host) but that is what we predict. We have to see how the heal points shake out.
Wiley said the win is a momentum boost for the Bucks heading into the playoffs.
“It’s huge,” Wiley said. “We took a huge loss to NYA that kind of brought us down, but now two games in a row we just won and hopefully this will put us into the top three to see if we can host a home game.”
Richmond’s Dakota Gilpatrick left and Buckfield’s Abram Cormier jump to get a head on a goal kick during Tuesday’s game in Buckfield. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)