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Richmond Blanks Temple

RICHMOND — For a Richmond girls soccer team hoping to build some confidence for the season’s stretch run, Thursday’s blanking of Temple Academy was a step in the right direction.

It wasn’t the blowout win the Bobcats enjoyed over the Bereans in the second game of the campaign back in early September, but it was efficient enough for Richmond to score a 3-0 East-West Conference win at home. Junior Bry Shea had a goal and an assist as Richmond, which had been shut out itself in two of its previous three games, improved to 7-3-0 with its sixth clean sheet of the season.

chloe“Honestly, if we’re looking back to the first game that we played them really early in the season, they’ve gotten a lot better over all these games. Every team should,” Shea said. “We were putting a lot of good passes together. Even if we didn’t finish, we still were putting good passes together.”

An undermanned Temple side fell to 9-2-0, both of its losses coming against Richmond.

But unlike the first meeting between the two sides — and 11-2 Bobcat breeze — the Bereans were determined to defend above all else on Thursday. With six backs, including a double-stopper, double-sweeper formation, the bunker mentality nearly paid off for Temple.

Richmond attempted 17 shots in the contest, despite playing with the ball at its feet for easily 85 percent of the afternoon, and managed only seven on-target chances.

“We’re so down with three players gone (due to injury) that we knew we couldn’t run up and down the field with them,” Temple coach Phil Hubbard said. “We can score, but you can only hold so much. You can only run so much. The plan was to play the one-goal game, but I wanted them to learn the formation so we could learn the positioning. We didn’t want to spend the whole time recovering (on defense), because once you start recovering you just open yourselves up.”

That inability to finish consistently, Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said, has been an Achilles’ heel for the Bobcats. In their three losses this season, including a pair of 1-nil defeats, Richmond has failed to score a single goal.

“That’s a bugaboo for us is finishing some balls off,” Kendrick said.

Quickly, though, the Bobcats put to rest any unease that this could turn into another day of several missed opportunities.

Shea found Paige Lebel on the end of her fourth-minute cross, and Lebel finished off the chance from the center of the 18-yard box for a 1-0 lead.

“You’ve got to be patient and keep picking away,” Kendrick said. “We talked a lot about attacking out wide, trying to open them up a little bit and dumping the balls in there. But I was really pleased that we stayed composed and tried to pick away at them a little bit.”

Temple did well to clog things up, particularly along the touchlines, throughout the remainder of the first half. With the ever-present threat of 24-goal scorer Hannah Hubbard in the center of the Berean formation, the Bobcats went into the halftime break still fretting over the possibility of letting another would-be victory slip away.

Caleigh versus Richmond
In the 44th minute, though, senior Abby Johnson doubled the Richmond lead and the Bobcats had plenty of insurance to work with. Temple’s first shot attempt of the match didn’t come until the 71st minute, when Hubbard broke free down the left side in one of her few forays forward and whistled her bid wide of the far post.

Shea’s solid crack in the 73rd minute sealed the Richmond win and moved the Bobcats ahead of the Bereans in the Class D South standings. Richmond ended the day at No. 3, behind North Yarmouth Academy and Buckfield. Temple sits fourth.

“It felt really good,” Shea said. “The past few games were not our best. We were on a bit of a losing streak, but I think we’re starting to pick it up and get a lot better.”