Both the Richmond High School boys soccer team and visiting Buckfield were handed favorable bounces at the end of each half in Tuesday’s Class D South tussle, and both turned the bounces into goals.

With the score deadlocked in overtime, it was one last bounce that proved deadly for the Bobcats. A Buckfield shot heading for the net deflected off the post and was frantically cleared away, but a late whistle from the referee awarded the Bucks a penalty — it had skimmed a hand in the box first.

Matt Beaucage calmly stepped up and sunk it from the spot, giving Buckfield a 2-1 East-West Conference win and leaving Richmond stunned.

“A heartbreak,” Richmond coach Peter Gardner said. “Because I thought they played well. They kept pressure on and did what they needed to do. The kids would have enjoyed finishing this one off, and one little mistake back there is what cost us.”

That mistake came late in regulation, when Richmond (5-1) was less than 10 minutes away from keeping its season perfect.

After the ball was hit back to defender Matthew Rines, Beaucage and a Buckfield (3-1-1) teammate charged him. Rines turned and tried to clear the ball away, but the pressure was too much and the ball went rolling off Beaucage’s leg toward the net. He ran after it and coolly finished past goalie Zach Small to make the score 1-1.

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“It was just a hustle-play more than anything,” Beaucage said. “We got a good bounce — sometimes it bounces your way, sometimes it doesn’t — and I just tried to capitalize.”

“The score down there was basically our fault,” Gardner said. “But that’s part of communicating and talking to each other so that you don’t make those mistakes.”

For most of the match, Rines was in control of the defense, holding the Bucks to just one shot on target in the first half and cutting off multiple through balls near the box. The one time he ran into trouble was when Beaucage brought help.

“Most of the game, we had one forward up, and for that brief 15 minutes we brought two up to try and spread out their really great sweeper they have,” Buckfield coach Kyle Rines said. “It worked out that we got a 2-on-1 and they kept fighting. It was a good through ball.”

Richmond responded with a couple counter attacks and tested Buckfield goalie Jacob Kraske with a lofted shot on frame in the 76th minute, but the score was still even when the final whistle sounded.

Sticking with it

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The first half had a similar storyline, with near-finishes for both sides and four saves from Kraske before the Bobcats broke through.

On the edge of the box just five minutes before halftime, Nathan Kendrick dribbled around one Buckfield defender before running into two more. He bounced off and lost control of the ball, but it deflected it off a leg and rolled toward the endline. He stuck with it and fired past Kraske as he charged.

It was a fitting end to a half filled with fouls, one-on-one battles and races to the ball. Both coaches yelled “Stick with it!” and “Good pressure!” from the sideline. Just another Richmond-Buckfield rivalry game.

“We knew coming in it was going to be a battle,” Kyle Rines said. “We were thinking defensive all game. Our formation to start was defensive, but one of our keys before the game was to persevere. Keep fighting, keep fighting, keep fighting. We did.”

The Bobcats earned four corners and fired eight shots in the second half, but Kraske wasn’t beat. One sequence in the 61st minute saw the ball bounce off two Richmond heads and toward the net, but Kraske tipped it over the crossbar to safety. In the 68th, he watched a Cody Tribbet shot from distance kiss off the bar.

In the other net, Small saved four shots in the second half and another in overtime before the penalty was called with three minutes left in the second overtime period. Aside from one diving save, Buckfield’s other two scoring chances were both one-one looks.

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“Any goal against a great, great team — we’ll take any goal that we can get,” Beaucage said. “If it’s going to come like that, I’m fine with that.”

Richmond finished with 16 shots to Buckfield’s 12 and took seven corner kicks. Both of the Bucks’ corners were struck into the side netting on the ground.

To say the least, it was a tough one to swallow.

“It’s a game,” Gardner said. “Basically it’s a game that’s played for 80 or 90 minutes and then it’s over with. When it’s over with, you’ve got to handle the good and the bad. The idea is you come back and work a little bit harder and when you get into those situations again, you come out on top. It’s not simple, but it is simple.”


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