BUCKFIELD — The Richmond High School boys’ soccer team is used to playing and practicing on a wide and long field.
However, at least once a year, the Bobcats board the bus and head to Buckfield for its East-West Conference clash with the Bucks on a field that is tight, both in length and width.
On Tuesday, the Bobcats controlled the narrow midfield in the first half, leading directly to a pair of Matt Rines goals, good enough for a 2-1 victory over their rivals.
Richmond improved to 6-0, while the Bucks dropped their first game to fall to 5-1.
“These games with Buckfield are so competitive, and you can’t make mistakes,” Richmond coach Peter Gardner said.
Richmond owned the midfield in the opening half, led by Zach Small, who battled all day with Bucks standout midfielder Ethan Jackson.
“The middle of the field we tried to switch up, using five guys to their four. We just didn’t have it in the first half,” Buckfield coach Kyle Rines said.
Richmond’s Rines took advantage of the short field on his first goal, just 7:14 into the game. He gathered a pass from Nick Adams, took one stride and let fly a laser into the lower left corner past the dive of Bucks starting goaltender Rick Kraske (two saves).
The Bobcats kept coming in the opening frame, outshooting Buckfield 7-3 and gaining a 2-0 lead when Andrew Goodall chipped a pass to Rines, who didn’t miss from just inside the 18.
“Luckily I was able to stay at the top of the 18, and I that was a great ball to me from Andrew,” Matt Rines said. “Buckfield really works hard in the midfield. This is a huge win. We have a lot of momentum and confidence going forward.”
Jackson created problems for Richmond throughout, using a flip throw to open up a few chances in front of Bobcat netminder Trystin Shea.
Second half charge
Jackson led the second-half run by Buckfield. After Shea went the entire first half without having to make a save, the Bucks began to pepper the Richmond cage. Shea made 10 stops in the second frame.
“We had to play more offensively being down two,” Jackson said. “Richmond has always been our biggest rival. They are really tough and really strong, and we just didn’t come hard enough. The second half proved that they are not unbeatable, human like us.”
“You could tell the second half we were much more involved, especially energy-wise,” the Buckfield coach said.
Buckfield cut the Richmond lead in half with 13 minutes left in regulation. Noah Wiley found room along the end line and passed to a teammate in front of the Bobcat cage. The ball struck a Richmond defender and bounced into the cage.
Buckfield pressed for the tying goal, with Jackson, Zack Grover and Wiley having chances that Shea turned away.
“We’re fortunate after giving up two or maybe even three runs right along the end line,” Gardner said. “We knew they would come back. We lost the midfield a bit in the second half. I think we just got tired at the end.”
Buckfield finished with an 18-14 edge in shots, while Richmond held a slight 5-3 advantage in corner kicks.
“To come up here and get the win is big,” said Gardner. “They have sold in to what they need to do. We work hard, something we have to do.”
“We had a good push back. It was a well-fought game. I have coached against that team for a long time. We will play them again and it will also be a great game,” Kyle Rines said.