by Calli Newberry
After a tough loss to Imlay City last week, the Richmond Blue Devils bounced back for an overwhelming 8-0 victory against Armada Wednesday night. With a fast-paced offense and a well-rounded scoring effort, head coach Lance Whitney said it felt good to have his team back on track.
“I think the biggest difference was that we legitimately had three of our starters out,” Whitney said. “It’s one of those things in a game where you never know what could happen and the next time we play Imlay City we hope it won’t be 5-1. We hope we’re on the other side of that. It was a weird game that you can lose one time 5-1 and come back.”
With senior Jaden Gil and sophomore Ryan Kukuk back, the Blue Devils nearly returned to full strength. Senior Kyle Trombley is still out, but Whitney said he expects him to return to the game next week.
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Richmond’s offense came alive early with a 5-0 lead before the first half’s 9-minute mark, including a goal scored by senior Ryan Nettles who head-butted the ball into the net off of a corner kick with 22 minutes to go in the first half.
“We’ve got a lot of good forwards on this team and a lot of talent with everybody really,” Whitney said. “We’re led by [junior] Drew Matyunas, who’s our normal striker, but we’ve got a lot of sophomores, and young players behind him, who are ultra talented too.”
One of those players is junior Adan Muller, who scored his first goal today.
“[Muller’s] a brand new player and he got his first goal today. It’s pretty cool you know, when you see a shot go in, you get genuinely excited for somebody,” Whitney said. “He’s brand new, he’s never played before for us and he comes out and is getting good minutes and putting stuff on frame and getting goals. It’s pretty exciting.”
Whitney said he credits his team’s ability to work the ball down field on offense to put players in good scoring position, which is something they work on a lot during practice.
“They move the ball really well through the middle,” he said. “We work on that a ton, 1-2 touch through the middle making sure you move the ball quickly to make sure you get in the offensive zone.”
The Richmond offense struggled to find that rhythm, however, coming back after the half. Unlike the quick start they saw in the first, the Blue Devils failed to score for the first 12 minutes. With 27 minutes left in the game, Matyunas sparked his teammates with a solid shot to put them ahead 6-0, and nearly a minute later, Kukuk lofted in a long shot for another Blue Devil goal.
With a 7-0 deficit, the Armada defense was under pressure to stop the game from ending early with the mercy rule. The Tigers kept alive for a few more minutes, but as the 18-minute mark approached, Kukuk snuck to the side and netted the ball for the game’s final goal.
Kukuk led the Richmond offense along with Matyunas, Nettles, Muller, and junior Nathan Yeara, who all scored in Wednesday’s contest.
“We just had production from a lot of different places, which is good,” Whitney said. “It’s exciting.”
The Tigers will visit Croswell-Lexington next Monday, Sept. 13, at 4:30 p.m. while Richmond will travel to Marysville for a Friday night game on the 10th at 6 p.m. The Imlay City rematch won’t occur until Wednesday, Sept. 29, giving the Blue Devils a few more weeks to prepare.
“We’ve got them at home, which is a lot better for us. It’ll be good,” Whitney said. “They’re the team to beat for sure.”