RICHMOND — The Greenville boys soccer team wanted a quick start to pressure its nemesis. It needed a spectacular performance from its keeper.

The Lakers received both Wednesday in an entertaining 1-0 victory over rival Richmond in the Western D championship game.

“It’s a little change of fortunes,” Greenville coach Jeff Richards said, “which is nice.”

Indeed, the top-seeded Bobcats (12-3-1) were gunning for their seventh straight regional championship. They had also defeated the second-seeded Lakers (10-4-2) in the Western D title game in three consecutive seasons.

Both streaks ended Wednesday.

“We thought we were the bigger dog,” Richmond senior forward Peter Lorbeski said. “I think we got too high on ourselves.”

The Lakers and Bobcats had played four consecutive overtime games stretching into last season.

Forward Tristan Richards and keeper Corey Henderson, both juniors, made sure a fifth wasn’t necessary.

Richards scored from about eight yards out just 3 minutes, 7 seconds into the game to give the Lakers the only goal it would need. Henderson had 14 saves, including several eye-openers in each half.

“We were fortunate our goalie had a heck of a game,” said Jeff Richards, whose team will play Bangor Christian in the Class D state title game Saturday at Hampden Academy. “We wanted to get up early and we did. We didn’t back down.”

Richards gave the Lakers the lead when he took a nice pass from junior captain Henry Hersey inside the box and beat Richmond keeper Tyler Harrington with a low shot to the far post.

“(Hersey) gave me a nice cross and I reached out and trapped it,” Richards said. “I spun around and just shot it. I didn’t even look. I just hoped for the best.”

The ball just eluded the hands of the out-stretched Harrington.

“I saw two of their strikers coming,” he said. “They have some speed up front. He got it and shot it to the far post. It was a good shot.”

The Bobcats had several excellent chances at scoring the equalizer, with many coming off the foot of Lorbeski.

Lorbeski had one shot sail just wide of the far post after he beat a defender at the top of the box with 20:37 left in the half.

He then put a good shot on net on a direct kick from about 25 yards out with 14 seconds left in the half, only to see Henderson come up with a big save.

“He had his best game of the season, and he picked a hell of a time to have it,” Jeff Richards said. “He was tested.”

Richmond had more opportunities in the second half, particularly early, but couldn’t pull even.

The Bobcats had seven of their eight corner kicks in the second half.

“Missed opportunities,” Lorbeski said. “We probably had the ball about 70-30 but we couldn’t capitalize. They held us until the end.”

Added Harrington, who stopped nine shots in a strong performance: “We are normally a second half team, but we weren’t (Wednesday).”

Bill Stewart — 621-5640

[email protected]


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