NEW CASTLE, Ind.
Three days removed from a historic soccer victory over Marion, Richmond High School’s boys team stood poised to seize control of the North Central Conference race.
Instead, the Red Devils picked an inopportune time to come out flat. New Castle controlled play, tempo and enthusiasm on their home field and turned them into a 3-1 Trojan victory Tuesday.
Richmond struggled to string together passes on offense, allowed two second-half goals and suffered its first NCC defeat and first since opening night against state power Mount Vernon.
Outplayed in the first half, Richmond managed a 1-1 halftime tie thanks to the late-half heroics of Joel Okafor. The sophomore forward outcrafted three Trojans and fired the tying goal low and into the net with only 12 seconds left in the first half.
That proved to be the Red Devils’ lone highlight. They allowed an odd second-half goal when a long pass took a 20-foot hop over goalkeeper Drew Barrett’s head, then clinched the win with 10 minutes left after a defensive breakdown.
Richmond put together a couple flurries late, including a 35-foot laser from Jorge Perez and separate chances from Andy Stevens and Josh Anderson. But all three were saved or cleared and the Trojans erupted in delight as the final seconds ticked away.
“The field was small and bumpy and we couldn’t get the ball down there and play our game,” said RHS coach Sam Byrd. “It was not a fun game to watch. But give New Castle credit. They played their game and showed a lot of intensity.”
The loss dropped the Red Devils to 6-2-2 and 2-1 in NCC play. On Saturday, they beat Marion 2-1 on a late-game goal, their first win over the Giants in years, but couldn’t match that effort against New Castle.
They take a break from conference action Saturday with a two-game tournament at Indianapolis Pike before resuming NCC play Tuesday at Anderson.
JV game: Richmond 1, New Castle 1. RHS goal by Zach Smith, assist by Omar Melendez.