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Raiders net lone goal to edge rival Knights

Raiders net lone goal to edge rival Knights

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BONNE TERRE – In a wild second half of soccer that featured plenty of improvised scoring opportunities, a well-timed set piece yielded the lone goal on Tuesday night.

North County honored 12 seniors at halftime of its rivalry match against Farmington, but a junior substitute provided the decisive touch.

Dreston Hoffman redirected a free kick amid a wave of Raiders crashing the back post, and scored in the 57th minute to highlight a 1-0 home victory as North County stayed unbeaten.

Senior keeper Shelby Lee made four saves for the shutout, and dodged one last major threat as the last five seconds ticked away.

Farmington hastily pushed deep to earn its fourth and final corner, and displayed true poise considering the frantic nature of the moment to nearly force extra time.

Freshman Dustin Randazzo sprinted into position and played the ball short to Cade Blackmon, who then cut toward the goal line and slid an accurate pass toward freshman Landon Veach.

With about two seconds remaining but no window to either glance up at the scoreboard or attempt to settle the ball, Veach guided his shot just wide of the cage.

Each team produced nine shots, unofficially, but mostly struggled to find the mark. Knights goalie Alejo Aldaba was only tested on five occasions, making four stops in defeat.

His best save occurred four minutes before North County snapped the scoreless tie. Landon Kater made a right-side run following a turnover, and Daniel Young sent a connecting pass toward a streaking Nate Peniston. But a charging Aldaba cut down the angle just enough to deflect the shot away on a slide.

Farmington then saw its last hope of leading fade. Randazzo leaped to meet a corner kick with forward momentum, but his header carried about two feet wide.

The Raiders would finally capitalize when Farmington defender Brenner Gollaher tangled with Peyton Cheek and was assessed a foul after initially going down and drawing no whistle.

Captain Bryan Basinger landed the ensuing chip between a crowd of six players without being touched, and Hoffman arrived at the next bounce for the successful tap in.

North County nearly made it 2-0 following a midfield throw and subsequent run that was broken up. Aldabo lunged left to stop a low shot by Daniel Black, who followed up the play.

An isolated Brandt Vickers controlled the rebound with ample time on the wide-open doorstep, but instead rattled the crossbar in the 64th minute.

As Farmington immediately tried to attack for the equalizer, Ethan Forney sprinted back to disrupt a long pass that would have been onside.

The urgency to score was far greater after intermission as compared to a relatively subdued first half. North County (3-0-2) was slowed by several shaky touches in the early moments.

A trace of anxiety still remained for the Raiders during a promising sequence in the 45th minute, as Peniston whiffed from 15 yards on a pass from Young before punching the turf in frustration.

Farmington (2-2) created a dangerous counter 90 seconds later. A 27-yard Blackmon strike dipped just above the bar after Chase Gollaher was spun down, popped to his feet and zipped the pass ahead.

North County was empty on three corner tries, and overcame nine fouls compared to four against its longtime district foe.

Farmington developed the only clean offensive look from the box over the first 40 minutes. Randazzo stopped and fed a rolling cross to Chase Gollaher, whose volley sailed high in the 33rd.

Baysinger bookended the sunset stanza with a pair of crucial sliding tackles at his right back position after the Knights looked to dribble in from along the sideline.

The home team was nearly gifted an early fluke goal. A Farmington clearing attempt caught one of the Raiders squarely and ricocheted about 25 yards in the air before catching the crossbar behind Aldabo.

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