It has been a turbulent season filled with struggles, hardships and setbacks for the varsity soccer Fighting Scots in 2012.
But through it all, the Scots have continued to battle as the team’s chemistry improved on a nightly basis. And the Scotland team that hosted Richmond at home for “Senior Night” on Wednesday was a far different team than the one that first took the field back in August.
After two overtime periods, the exhausted Scotland and Richmond squads ended their game in a 1-1 tie, the first tie of the season for the Fighting Scots. And after both teams commended each other on one of the hardest-fought games of the season, McDavid had nothing but praise for the resilience his team has shown since the summer.
“I’ve told my guys that we would peak at the end of the season, and what you saw tonight was the total package,” McDavid said. “They kept me out of the game because I didn’t have to hardly coach them from the sidelines, they were clicking all night long. These guys fought hard and never gave up throughout the year, and the effort they gave tonight showed that our seniors have true Scotland pride.”
The opening minutes were sluggish offensively for both teams, with the first shot on goal not coming until the 15th minute when Scotland senior forward Meelad Alinaghian attempted a strike which soared out of bounds.
It would be two huge plays in rapid succession from Scotland sophomore defender Kytel Collins-Jackson that spring-boarded the Scots to an early lead.
After a penalty resulted in a free kick for Richmond sophomore midfielder Johnny Juarez at the 26th minute, Scotland goal keeper Robert McMillian would be forced out of the box to defend the Richmond offensive drive. A deflection would give the Raiders’ Gary Boyette a chance at an unopposed goal, and as the ball left his foot, it would be Collins-Jackson who came out of nowhere to block what would’ve been a sure goal.
A minute later, Collins-Jackson found himself in the right place at the right time as Afiz Lateef had the opportunity at a corner kick. Lateef would send a perfectly placed kick right into a crowded Richmond goal, and a header from Collins-Jackson would bring the Scotland crowd to its’ feet as the ball hit the back of the net.
The first half of regulation would end 1-0 in favor of the Scots.
Richmond would tie the game in the 49th minute, when a sharp strike from the Raiders’ Armando Garcia bent past the outstretched dive of McMillian to give the sophomore a goal from approximately 30 feet.
McMillian would have himself a huge game, as the senior would collect 12 saves in a game where the Raiders had several on-target attacks that could’ve changed the outcome. No save was perhaps bigger than in the 64th minute, when McMillian caught an accurate strike between his legs from the foot of Tad Hamilton, who was on a breakaway and had a clear shot at the score.
In all, the Fighting Scots had 12 total shots on goal to Richmond’s 19.
The final minutes of regulation would tick away, forcing the first of two overtime periods between the two teams. However, both Scotland and Richmond appeared utterly spent in the waning minutes of the game, which resulted in hardly any offensive output from either team.
For McDavid, the 1-1 tie was a disappointing end to a regular season that saw the Scots finish with a 3-13-1 record. But in the eyes of the long-tenured head coach, the effort his team displayed against Richmond in their final regular season game was indicative of the competitive team he fielded all year.
“This team was competitive all year, despite what our record tells you,” McDavid said. “This is not a poor team, and we’ve hung with some very, very good teams until the final minutes. We just ended up on the losing end more often than not, but that doesn’t remove the fact that these guys can play.”’
And for first-year player McMillian, the path his team journeyed this year was a great experience despite the overall record.
“We had a lot of ups and downs, but overall I enjoyed it a lot, and this was an emotional end to the season,” McMillian said.