Richmond kicked off its 2014 boys soccer season under less-than-ideal circumstances.
The Red Devils were down three starters before even taking to the turf at Lyboult Field for Monday’s 3-0 loss to Mt. Vernon.
Still, Richmond put up a fight.
The Red Devils put themselves into scoring opportunities in the first half, before the Marauders used a pair of second-half goals to put the game away.
“We played with a lot of heart,” said RHS coach Matt Haynes. “The heart is in the right place. We just need to put the pieces together, play a little smarter and we’ll be fine.”
Leading scorer Kevin Mendoza was one of the starters unavailable on Monday. Evan Pennington and Gilbert Rios also were out.
Haynes said Mendoza injured his knee during Saturday’s scrimmage at Union County and is game-to-game.
“We weren’t going to risk it,” Haynes said of Monday’s opener.
Mendoza scored 26 goals in 2013.
Mt. Vernon’s first goal of the 2014 season came late in the first half.
The Marauders snapped a scoreless tie when Devin Nelson converted with about 10 minutes left in the first half.
That came about 5 minutes after Richmond’s freshman keeper, Sid Sagna, made a nice save to keep the Marauders off the scoreboard.
“The turf was a little different for us. We hadn’t had a chance to see it for a long time,” said Mt. Vernon coach Aaron Britt. “It took us a little while to get going.”
Richmond had its chances early in the half, including a pair of corner kicks less than a minute apart.
RHS senior Jack Mehaffie took both, with the first coming very close to giving the Red Devils the lead.
Mehaffie’s pass found Aquib Mohamed right in front of the goal, but Mt. Vernon’s defense booted the ball around, finally clearing it with just under 29 minutes to go.
“Sometimes the chips don’t fall your way. We played our hearts out,” Haynes said. “We just got a little bit tired. That’s on the coaches.”
Sagna made his first varsity start and batted away several Mt. Vernon attempts.
“We have a great goal coach … He’s been working with Sid and a couple others. It’s phenomenal,” Haynes said. “Some of those shots are just unreal that he stops. He’s a pure shot stopper and it’s just fun to see.”
Mt. Vernon extended its advantage about midway through the second half with a goal by Logan Brandon with 23:42 remaining.
It became contagious. Jacob Thomas found the back of the net about 3 minutes later for a 3-0 Marauder lead.
“Once we got a half under our belts, it helped us,” Britt said.
“That’s what we talked about at halftime. The bounces aren’t going your way, it’s a little difficult to adjust to the field conditions. It’s great, but it’s just different. I told them to just keep doing the things they know they need to do.”
Richmond returns to action Thursday at Muncie Burris, followed by a home game Aug. 28 vs. Franklin County.
“We’ll watch some film (today), get them back to work Wednesday,” Haynes said.
Sports editor Josh Chapin: (765) 973-4463, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/JoshChapinPI