Tri-County North girls soccer coach Darren Baldasare called Richmond the best team his Panthers have played all season.
The Panthers, a team from Ohio’s Division 3, scheduled the Indiana Class 2A Red Devils for Wednesday as a chance to play on turf and an opportunity to face higher competition in preparation for the Ohio state tournament.
Baldasare was pleased with his team’s effort in the 4-2 loss to the Red Devils, and Richmond coach Eric Wilson was thrilled with the praise for his team that improved to 8-3 and continued a surge in Wilson’s fourth year.
“That’s great. It’s nice hearing things from other coaches,” said Wilson, who took over a team that was 5-3-1 in 2011. “Last weekend, the Marion coach was very complimentary on how much we’ve improved and the quality of our team.”
Two big pieces of Richmond’s success displayed their talents Wednesday as leading scorers Braxtyn Hurley and Payton VanMiddlesworth each scored twice.
Another piece, goalkeeper Nikki Mittenthal, had various impressive saves in goal and defensive captain Lili Sagna helped limit the damage to a pair of impressive goals from TCN’s Hailey Thiese.
“I’m happy with our performance,” Baldasare said. “We never play on turf, first game on turf, we had one senior, three juniors, 11 sophomores and four freshmen … We’re learning.
“We schedule them for the competition. I think if we can play teams like this and we can play them and learn from them, it’s going to make us better in our tournament.”
Thiese kept the Panthers (5-3) in the game as Hurley scored first to put Richmond on top before Thiese responded to tie the game.
VanMiddlesworth put Richmond back on top and Hurley scored her second goal early in the second half, before Thiese scored less than a minute later.
Samantha Wilson was credited with an assist for Richmond, which hosts Franklin County at 5 p.m. tonight to open a girls-boys doubleheader.
Richmond was coming off a heartbreaking loss Saturday at Marion. The Red Devils fell 3-0 in penalty kicks after a scoreless tie, which dropped them to the No. 2 seed for the Sept. 26 NCC tournament.