Richmond-Burton nips Burlington for BNC East soccer lead

RICHMOND — Richmond-Burton forward Amanda Hoglund had the ball at midfield  and tore down the right side of the field toward the Burlington Central net.

The sophomore made a quick cut to get around a defender and swiftly kicked the ball past the diving goalkeeper with 32:38 remaining in the second half for the match's first and only goal in the Rockets' 1-0 Big Northern Conference East Division win. The game ended with about 9 minutes remaining when Burlington left after a lengthy delay because of lightning.

"It was amazing," Hoglund said of the goal. "When we got that, our intensity rose and our energy rose and we were able to compete even more than we were."

The first half ended with no goals and only a couple of solid chances by both teams as the half was defined by the two defenses.

Neither team could muster any sustained offensive pressure, and the gritty and physical play highlighted the importance of the match as the winner would take sole possession of first place in the BNC East.

Several players were bumped to the ground, and forearms were being thrown to establish position. Earlier in the season, the two faced off in a match that ended in a 0-0 tie.

"It's always a battle, it's always a war," R-B coach Chris Wagner said. "They're a good team, and it's fun and its competition that we need."

Added Wagner on the rivalry: "There were always at the top of the conference and we could never get them and last year we finally got them at their place. It's two strong teams and two fast teams and it's natural competition that is created by it."

Hoglund's second-half goal, fittingly enough, came after Burlington (15-2-1, 8-1-1) had a great opportunity to score. Burlington squeezed off two shots on goal in succession, and the second shot hit the inside of the post and bounced on the goal line before R-B goalkeeper Hannah Koenig snatched it.

R-B (14-0-1 overall, 8-0-1 BNC East) cleared out of the zone where Hoglund broke through a few defenders who were marking her, got possession and took off. Her speed with the ball was what allowed her to separate herself from the defenders and connect on a rare chance.

"The physicality is just soccer, so you just have to get used to that," Hoglund said. "And playing BC this late and taking advantage the way we did actually shows how tough and able we are to go into regionals with our heads up."

With 9:18 remaining, officials spotted lightning. The ensuing delay lasted more than an hour, and just as the match was about to resume officials spotted more lightning.

Burlington decided not to stick around as rain started to fall, ending the match. With the win, R-B took sole possession of the BNC East and will face North Boone on Tuesday in the first match of regionals. The game also will count in the conference standings.

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