Richmond Eliminated By Hammerheads

Christopher Newport's Jalon Brown Celebrates PK Winner Over Lynchburg

The last couple of weeks of the season was a wild roller coaster ride for the Richmond Kickers.

First they defeated Antigua in the first of two games on the road to close out the regular season. That set up a scenario where they could finish second in the USL PRO standings and earn a bye in the opening round of the playoffs.

Then they gave up a very early goal to the last-place team and were beaten by Antigua 2-1. That put them in as the ?th place team with a meeting against the Wilmington Hammerheads in the quarterfinal round.

And then! And then! With the score tied at 2-2 deep into second-half stoppage time, with the Kickers and Hammerheads headed to overtime the Wilmington Hammerheads saved a ball near the sidelines 40 yards from the Richmond goal.

Defender Tom Parratt took one touch and launched a cross at the goal with a minute and a half left to play. That cross turned out to be a shot as the ball and Richmond goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale arrived at the same time at the back post. The ball struck the post and then hit Pascale’s outstretched arm and into the goal. Game over!

“Ninety-nine times out of 100, a shot like that doesn’t go in,” Pascale, a 35-year old goalkeeper whose career ended with the loss, said to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “But tonight it did. It’s a tough way to lose. It’s tough to think that the last time I handled the ball (as a professional goalkeeper), that’s what happened.”

But the loss can’t be blamed on Pascale, who came out of retirement in the spring to play one more season for the Kickers.

Truth be told, Parratt wasn’t trying to score.

“Just hit it and see what happens, that’s what I was thinking,” Parratt said. “All I was trying to do was put it into a danger area. Do that often enough and sometimes something good will happen.

“I wasn’t thinking ‘shot’. From that part of the field, at that point in the game, all I was thinking was ‘cross.’ To be honest, I thought I hit it too strong, but sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t. Tonight, what can I say? I got a little lucky.”

The Kickers had rallied to tie the game at 2-2 in the 79th minute on a goal off a Michael Burke corner kick that was finished by Edson Elcock. Burke, also 35, and the team’s all-time assist leader, had come out of retirement at mid-season as a favor to Richmond coach Leigh Cowslishaw.

The Kickers had held a 1-0 halftime lead, but squandered a pair of excellent scoring opportunities to extend the lead. Midway through the second half Wilmington went up 2-1 when Troy Cole and Steven Perry scored within three minutes of each other.

“I feel very bad for (Pascale),” Cowlishaw said after the loss. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t do a better job of protecting him tonight. We left him hanging out to dry on numerous occasions.”

The loss marked the first time since 2004 that the Kickers (11-9-5) failed to reach the playoff semifinals. However, in mid-July they were in danger of missing the playoffs altogether. At that time Richmond stood #8 in the standings after losing three games straight and four out of five.
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