RICHMOND — The Richmond girls soccer team doesn’t look like one which will pile up goals like squirrels stocking acorns ahead of the onrushing winter, but the Bobcats likely won’t need to this fall.

A three-goal second-half outburst was more than enough to power Richmond to a 3-0, East-West Conference season-opening win over visiting Rangeley on Saturday afternoon, thanks in large part to the Bobcats’ senior leadership through the center of the pitch. With the trio of center midfielder Rylie Irish and center backs Bry Lancaster and Marybeth Sloat effectively controlling both play and space, Richmond had plenty of time to recover from an uneven first half and produce the winning effort after the break.

Bry Shea, Abby Johnson and Irish connected for the goals, the second and third of which came after the outcome had long been decided. Richmond outshot the visitors by a 20-0 count, leaving sophomore goalkeeper Liz Johnson with little to do other than direct minimal traffic.

“We’ve really grown together over the years,” said Lancaster, a senior. “Marybeth has blended right in where she needs to. And Rylie and I, we’ve worked together for four years and even in middle school. We know the distance out there. I think that’s really important, because teams don’t expect us to be as tight as we are when the ball comes to us.”

Richmond started quickly, connecting for four shots — all on target — inside the contest’s first four minutes while not allowing Rangeley a touch on the attacking side of midfield. None of those bids cracked through Winnie Larochelle (10 saves), and no other shots followed for the remainder of the first half. Rangeley’s packed-in defensive third kept the ball in the Bobcats’ possession, but it also left the hosts with very little in the way of opportunities through the middle of the park.

“That’s not my traditional set. That’s something I put into play on Wednesday,” Rangeley coach Chip Smith said. “I usually don’t tip my hat the first time against (Richmond). It was kind of what we were going for — keep them shooting from the outside.”

In the second half, though, a quick start sent Richmond off and running.

Larochelle couldn’t corral a Lancaster drive, knocking it straight into the path of Shea to roll into the net in the 42nd minute.

“Coach always says for us to come out hard, to show people that we’re here to for a reason and here to play,” Irish said. “We played with intensity, we put balls to feet, and when things didn’t work well we figured it out.”

It was plenty of goal support for a stingy back four diamond of Lancaster up top and Sloat below, with Lindsie Irish and Macy Carver manning the wide positions.

“I like the way we’ve stacked up the midfield a little bit. That’s worked for us so far,” Richmond coach Troy Kendrick said. “It’s the same old thing, though. We’re trying to play a short passing, possession game. I think we’re pretty fortunate we have some veterans in the back. They can clean some things up.”

Rangeley held Richmond at bay for nearly the next half hour, but a pair of restart goals late opened up the final score. First, Johnson took a quick free kick from just over 20 yards out, tucking it under the crossbar in the 70th minute. Three minutes later, Rylie Irish made a run to the near post on Lindsie Irish’s corner kick from the right side and one-timed it in for the 3-0 lead.

“Once you score one on them, you can kind of pull them out of that bunker,” Lancaster said. “Once we got the second goal, they were like, ‘Well, now what do we do?'”

“We didn’t come out in the second half,” Smith said. “In the second half, we looked like we were exhausted after that first goal.”

“It was good for us,” Kendrick said. ‘They kind of sat in a defensive formation, and it was good for us to work on it and have to sort it out. It’s a tough nut to crack. But I kept telling the kids if we get the first one, we’ll get that second and third one.

“But we just had to get that first one. We came right out and got it, and it changed the whole dynamic of the game.”

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