The Richmond men’s basketball team outscored top-seed Davidson 7-0 over the final 70 seconds to win the Atlantic 10 Championship and advance to the NCAA Tournament Sunday at Capital One Arena.
“I’m thrilled and so happy for our team, all 20 players and the coaches and managers, but especially the six seniors who came back” said Richmond head coach Chris Mooney, referring to Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden, Nathan Cayo, Nick Sherod, Jordan Gaitley, and Sullivan Kulju, who elected to use their additional year of COVID-19 eligibility to return to Richmond this offseason. “I think it’s such a unique story and will continue to be unique as college basketball trends toward so many transfers and guys changing teams, so I don’t think this story can be told enough. … For them to realize our dream of a championship today is very special and means a lot to me.”
Gilyard, a graduate student, led Richmond with 26 points and was selected as the A-10 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after averaging 19.8 points and setting a tournament record with 16 steals while playing all 160 possible minutes in Richmond’s four games.
“Words can’t really describe what this game and this tournament mean to me, and I’d imagine it’s the same for the rest of our teammates. But to be able to do this with … guys that came in together and have been playing together for so long it just means the world to me. Those are my brothers.”
After a pair of free throws gave Davidson a 62-57 lead with 1:17 remaining, Tyler Burton made a layup and was fouled, with the free throw cutting Richmond’s deficit to 62-60. Burton missed a potential game-tying jump shot on the ensuing possession, but the ball deflected off Davidson and out of bounds.
Moments later, Spiders forward Matt Grace spun in the post and laid the ball up and in while being fouled, tying the score at 62 and sending the mostly Richmond crowd into hysterics. Grace made the free throw to complete the And-1 and give Richmond a 63-62 lead with 19 seconds left. “Big time. Incredible,” said Mooney of Grace’s go-ahead field goal.
Davidson missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer with five seconds left and fouled Gilyard with two seconds left on the clock. Gilyard made one of two from the free-throw line. After advancing the ball into the frontcourt with a baseball pass, Davidson called a timeout with less than two seconds on the clock. But Michael Jones’ corner three-pointer at the buzzer was well-contested by Andre Gustavson and fell short, giving Richmond the 64-62 win and earning the Spiders their 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history.
The Spiders will face Iowa in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday in Buffalo, N.Y.
The Spiders came out quickly, opening the game on an 11-2 run, hitting five straight field goals at one point. Nathan Cayo scored four straight early on before guard Nick Sherod hit a runner forcing an early Davidson timeout. A bucket by Grant Golden stretched Richmond’s lead to 24-18, but the Wildcats responded with an 8-0 run including back-to-back 3-pointers and took a 26-25 lead into the locker room.
The Spiders scored the first six points after halftime to regain the lead and led by six when a three-pointer by Gilyard made it 34-28 with 17:03 to play. An 11-5 Davidson run tied the game at 39, and the Wildcats stretched their lead to seven midway through the second half on a three-pointer by Sam Mennenga to make the score 49-42.
Richmond scored the next seven points, tying the game at 49 with 7:40 remaining when Gilyard stripped Loyer near the baseline and raced the length of the court, laying the ball in and drawing the foul for a three-point play.
Davidson again responded, taking a five-point lead on a pair of Loyer free throws with 1:17 to go. Richmond outscored the Wildcats 7-0 over the remainder of the game to secures its second Atlantic 10 title and first since 2011, when Mooney and the Spiders advanced to the Sweet 16.
Tyler Burton was the only other Spider in double figures, finishing with 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Grant Golden had six points, two rebounds, and two assists and was named to the All-Tournament Team along with Gilyard.
Preview: Kickers Finish Busy Week by Facing USL Champs Omaha
Let’s not dwell on Wednesday’s game instead all attention is turned to the USL season.
Opponent: Union Omaha (1 – 1 – 2)
Date/Time: Saturday, May 14th, 6:30 PM
Last Result: Kickers 0 Forward Madison 1
Weather Forecast From WeatherBug.com
Second weekend in a row where we say bleck.
Three Things to Kick About
- Vengeance Shall Be Mine – The Kicker had their teeth kicked in on Wednesday. An important game that they were totally in got away from them and ended not just in defeat but in a drubbing. Professional athletes do not like to lose. The team will come out with a massive chip on their shoulder. This chip is enlarged because not only are the Union Omaha the reigning champs they also advanced in the Open Cup on the same night the Kickers went down.
- Weather – Richmond fans are notoriously wimpy when it comes to rainy weather. Attendance will probably hit a season-low on Saturday. The weather isn’t the only cause. This will be the third game in a week and some suffer soccer burnout. Counterpoint the players and staff absolutely love each and every person that braves a little bad weather to support the home team. These guys put their bodies and hearts on the line every week the least we can do is get a little wet in support.
- Zaca – Zaca Moran is one of the unsung heroes of the Richmond Kickers. He’s not flashy, defenders rarely are, but he digs in and get the work done. Sometimes he plays an enforcer role but he is always quietly and efficiently doing his job. Currently, he leads the team in tackles. This past Wednesday though he was the Kicker that stepped forward and scored against MLS side Charlotte FC. He couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
What a special moment for Zaca Moran to score his first goal in City Stadium in front of our largest home crowd since March 2019
— Richmond Kickers 🦘 (@RichmondKickers) May 12, 2022
I’m not keeping track of predictions this year because my ego is too fragile but I do know the past two have been stunningly wrong. I’m hoping to get back on track this game. For both Omaha and the Kickers this is the third game in seven days. Omaha and Kickers both played at home on Wednesday but Omaha has to come here so advantage Richmond. Omaha sits in 8th in the table and Richmond 5th, advantage Richmond again, grain of salt reality check Omaha has played one less game. Omaha won the league last year and as a result, many players moved on to other teams, while the Kicker have a strong core and very little change in starters. Lastly, if you throw out the Open Cup the Kickers have only lost in City Stadium twice in recent history both to own goals. City Stadium has been very good to the team the trend will continue or rather reignite tomorrow.
Kickers 2 – Union Omaha 0
Kickers Open Cup Ends with Loss to Charlotte FC – Photos and Game Summary
The Kicker kept it close for nearly 60 minutes but momentum shifted and the home side lost 5-1.
Official Kickers Game Summary
The Richmond Kickers set a new attendance record post-COVID as 4,612 fans filled the stands during the 2022 Open Cup Round of 32 against MLS side, Charlotte FC which ended with the visitors earning a 5-1 result.
The Kickers nearly drew first blood with a header from Matthew Bentley in the 29th minute. Emiliano Terzaghi played the role of creator on the left wing as he lifted a cross to the Brit. Bentley deftly flicked the shot on target with his head, forcing a diving save from the Charlotte keeper.
Despite momentum favoring the Kickers, the visitors broke the stalemate in the 33rd minute. Charlotte forward Daniel Rios fired a shot from inside the box that was saved by Akira Fitzgerald with a deflection. However, the deflection fell to teammate Yordy Reyna who passed the ball back into the box and Rios guided it into the net.
By halftime, Richmond had totaled six shots with two shots on goal but Charlotte held serve in the scoreline.
The Kickers came out of the dressing room firing to start the second half. Soon after, Zaca Moran scored his first goal in front of the City Stadium crowd with an equalizer in the 52nd minute. Leonardo Baima combined with Vincenzo Candela on a one-two, deep on the left wing, before Baima crossed the ball to the back post to Stephen Payne. Payne squared the ball back towards the middle of the box as Moran charged in and fired a shot that beat the keeper and hit the net.
The magic of a possible cupset started to dissipate as Charlotte responded quickly with a goal in transition that involved a controversial restart of play in the 54th minute. Charlotte found two more goals by the 61st minute as the Kickers opened up in an attempt to chase the game.
Owayne Gordon made his debut tonight for the Kickers, coming in as a substitute in the 63rd minute and had a breakaway in the 80th minute, taking the ball from midfield and dribbling past three defenders before taking the shot, which was saved by George Marks. The new Roo flashed his tenacity and agility by tracking back across the field to shut down another attacking chance from Charlotte.
The Kickers had one last great chance in front of goal as Nil Vinyals took a free kick in the 89th minute. The final shot by a Kicker curled dangerously over the Charlotte wall and beat the keeper, but the shot had too much English and hit the wrong side of the woodwork.
In total, the Kickers were unlucky not to score more as they outshot Charlotte 17 to 13 while placing six shots on goal. The Kickers finished with a 1.59 xG only just behind Charlotte’s 1.96.
The Kickers stay at home for one final match of their three-match homestand. The Roos host defending USL League One Champions, Union Omaha, on Saturday, May 14th on First Responders Night. Kickoff for the match is set for 6:30 p.m.
Kickers Look to Dethrone Queen City aka Charlotte FC in Open Cup – Preview
An MLS team is playing in City for the first time in about 6 years.
What is the Open Cup? – Technically, The Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is a knockout cup competition in men’s American soccer. It is the oldest ongoing national soccer competition in the United States. What makes it exciting is that it pits teams from all levels of U.S. soccer against each other. Amateur teams if they make far enough could end up facing top-level (MLS) professional teams. MLS teams have dominated the competition since the league began play in 1996. No lower division team has won the U.S. Open Cup since the Rochester Rhinos in 1999, and none have reached the final since the Charleston Battery in 2008. Our very own Richmond Kickers won the Open Cup in 1995 and in 2011 the Kickers went on the road and beat two MLS Teams the Columbus Crew and Sporting KC. They fell to the Chicago Fire in the semi-final.
Opponent: MLS team Charlotte FC (Beat USL1 Greenville Triumph in Penalty Kicks to advance)
Date/Time: Wednesday, May 10th, 6:30 PM
Last Result: Kickers beat North Carolina Fusion under 23 team of United Soccer League 2 1-0
Weather Forecast From WeatherBug.com
Four Things to Kick About
- Destiny – The last time the Kickers won the Open Cup we had a fellow by the name of Jeff Causey on the team. This year we have this fellow’s son Austin Causey on the team. Coincidence, I think not. Both and Jeff are goalkeepers. Will we see Austin in goal tomorrow? I’m beating not but I’m a notoriously bad bettor. Read about that 1995 Kickers Open Cup win here. Yes, this is a repeat from the last Open Cup preview. Still true.
- Queen City – This is Charlotte FC first season as a professional soccer team. This means the team hasn’t been in the Open Cup before. We’ll mark that as a slight advantage. They currently sit in 8th in the table out of 14 teams. So they’re definitely not a weak team. They’ve scored 10 goals in 11 games and have a -1 goal differential so they’re also not an offensive powerhouse. This was brought to light in their previous Open Cup that was forced to go to penalty kicks. The players to watch out for include, forward Karol Swiderski who has netted 4 goals so far this season, and midfielder B. Bender who has 3 assists so far.
- Nothing to Lose – The Kickers are without a doubt the underdog. Many of the Kickers someday hope to play in the MLS. This chance to play against the top league in the US is an opportunity for these players to show off their skills. I expect they’ll leave it all on the field and play with a passion that we haven’t seen yet. Yes, I expect them to crank it to 11.
- Midnight Cookie – The Ukrops name is on the front of the jersey and yesterday the Kickers released a new jersey the Midnight Cookie that puts the so very Richmond/Ukrops Rainbow Cookie front and center. The team will be debuting this new jerseys during the Open Cup. The power of the Rainbow Cookie could be just enough for the win.
Anything can happen. If Charlotte comes out flat at all the Kickers need to pounce on that laziness and punish with a quick goal. The longer the game goes on the tougher it’s going to be for the home side. The MLS squad has single players with larger salaries than all of the Kickers combined so it’s going to be tough. In my dream scenario what happens is that Charlotte is so focused on stopping the obvious and well-publicized threat Terzaghi that it leaves the door open for players like Bently to nab a goal. Our defense is stout and should be able to keep us in the game, scoring will need to happen. Will it be enough? I’m doubtful but also refuse to count this team out.
Kickers win in Penalty Kicks after a 1-1 draw.