St. Dominic Academy’s Hunter Emery (15) and Richmond’s Matt Rines battle for the ball during their soccer match in Richmond on Tuesday.

RICHMOND — The Richmond High School boys’ soccer team trailed St. Dom’s by a goal midway through the first half. Coach Peter Gardner was OK with that. What he saw transpire over the remaining 50 minutes was what impressed him the most.

The Bobcats scored four unanswered goals, including three from Zach Small, to notch their 12th win of the season in a 4-1 victory over the visiting St. Dominic Saints.

“This is the second time someone has scored first on us. What I like about this group of kids is that they don’t back off,” Gardner said.

St. Dom’s got in the scoring column with under 22 minutes remaining in the first half. Forward Michee Kikobo dribbled along the back line through and around the Bobcats defense towards the net. Once past three Richmond players, the sophomore booted the ball inside the left post for a 1-0 lead.

“It was exceptionally important that we score that first goal,” St. Dom’s coach Marty Bressler said. “We had talked about it, but we let down a little bit after that.”

“Our defense was down a little that he scored, but that was a good move,” Gardner said. “I figured, though, the way they scored, I was like, ‘OK, it’s not like they’re dominating us right now.’”

It took less than two minutes for Richmond to answer. Having already fired a couple of shots towards the net, but not on target, Small took a Matt Rines pass and fired into the net to tie the game.

“That was a key goal,” said Small after his team fell behind 1-0. “If it wasn’t for Matt Rines today, I would not have scored three goals.”

“Rines works hard. He’s something else no matter how many men they put on him,” Gardner added. “Once they put someone on him, he’s able to pass it off and include others in our offense.”

Richmond did not let up the pressure. With 17:20 remaining, Rines tapped a pass to Andrew Vachon in front of the net. Vachon shot and hit the left post. Saints keeper Bryton Kieltyka was unable to secure the ball and Vachon tapped it back to Rines. The senior blasted a shot into the back of the net for the go-ahead goal.

Neither team had any real scoring threats to close out the half and the score remained 2-1 at the half. Richmond out shot St. Dom’s 11-4 while controlling the midfield, primarily winning the 50-50 balls.

“The defense is doing a heck of a job. We’ve been rotating them to keep them fresh,” Gardner said. “They communicate well and work the field well together.”

“They hustled today and outplayed us,” Bressler said. “That’s a hall-of-fame coach over there and his team came to play today.”

The Bobcats again wasted no time putting pressure on St. Dom’s. Nate Kendrick and Nicholas Adams did the pushing for Richmond as they put the Saints back on their heels. After a St. Dom’s infraction, Small nearly got his second goal of the game off a direct kick, but fresh into the game in the second half, Matt Gosselin made the save to keep the game at one goal.

Winning another ball at midfield, Richmond came right back down the field. Small got in front of the net and kicked two shots at point blank range. Gosselin came up big, making a pair of saves, but the third time was a charm for Small. Picking up the rebound off Gosselin, Small pushed the ball across the goaline for his second goal of the game and a 3-1 Bobcats lead.

St. Dom’s threatened with 28:35 left when they took their first corner of the contest, putting the ball on net. Bobcats goalie Trystan Shea came out into traffic to make one of his two saves on the day.

Small tallied his third goal of the game when Rines again set up the senior for the score, giving Richmond a commanding 4-1 lead.

“Number 12 (Small) is an all-star. His passion and his skill were unmatched,” said Bressler. “He was the best player on the field today and we had no answer for that.”

“Zach has been converted from a goalie. His leadership and passion as an athlete are tremendous,” said Gardner.

Richmond suffocated the St. Dom’s offense the remainder of the way, holding them to two shots on goal in the second half. The Bobcats out shot the Saints 24-8 in the contest. St. Dom’s Kieltyka made two saves in the first half while Gosselin turned away five in the final half.

“Our three captains (Small, Rines and Kendrick) have been great this year,” added Gardner.

“We a more mature team this year than we have been in the past,” said Small. “I think our senior leadership has stepped up.”

Richmond travels to Bingham to take on the Valley Cavaliers today at 4 p.m.

Comments are not available on this story.