The combination of Alex Ramos and Christian Silva proved to be a little too much for the New Hope High School boys soccer team to contain Thursday night.
Silva had two goals, while Ramos had a goal and two assists to lift Hernando to a 3-2 victory in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 5A North State playoff game.
“We moved the ball real well and passed the ball good, but we had a lot of opportunities we let go,” Hernando coach Randy Reiter said. “It was a great match between two good teams.”
Silva took a lead pass down the left flank from Ramos, beat at least two defenders, and then slid the ball under goalkeeper Zak Thrasher to give Hernando (4-5-1) a 3-1 lead with a little more than 16 minutes left in the match.
New Hope had a strong challenge off a corner kick by Tanner Ryals with 9 minutes, 50 seconds remaining. Its pressure finally paid off with 4:25 to go when Franklin Richardson Jr. scored his second goal of the game. Richardson Jr., who started the game at defense, pounced on a throw-in in the box that went uncleared and tucked it inside the near post to give the Trojans hope.
Unfortunately, that was the last gasp, as New Hope failed to generate any dangerous chances the rest of the way.
“If we had gotten there a little sooner it might have been a different game,” New Hope assistant coach Derrick Parnell said. “I just wanted them not to lay down and give up, and they had every opportunity, but they fought back.”
Richardson Jr. ran through a long service that the goalkeeper failed to corral on a short hop. He walked the ball into the goal with a little more than 26 minutes to play. The Trojans only had one more quality chance that went high over the crossbar before Hernando”s third goal gave it just enough insurance.
New Hope generated little offense in the first half, in part because Parnell said the Trojans typically use Richardson Jr. up top to capitalize on his speed. On Thursday, they opted to have him shadow Silva in an attempt to slow him down. The switch might have hampered the Trojans because they generated little pressure in the first half.
Meanwhile, Hernando used Silva”s first goal with 10:50 to go in the first half to take a 1-0 lead. Earlier in the half, Silva and Ramos combined on another dangerous opportunity with a teammate, but they took too much time and wasted the chance.
Ramos made it 2-0 3:20 into the second half. Thrasher kept it that way a little more than four minutes later with a sliding save on Silva.
Hernando didn”t let many of those opportunities go to waste, and that effectiveness helped eliminate the Trojans.
“New Hope fought hard and didn”t give up,” Reiter said. “They played their hearts out.”
Adam Minichino is the former Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.