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The Cardinal Newman Cardinals’ 5-0 win over the visiting Heathwood Hall Highlanders in the SCISA 4A Boys Soccer Semifinals Thursday, May 11 was a bit bittersweet. It was the final match for Andrew Richardson, who took over the Highlanders’ program over a decade ago after being an assistant for Will Eudy at Cardinal Newman.
“It’s the best 12 years of my life,” an emotional Richardson said after the game. “Four and five years after they graduate, if I’m looking at a group of great men, then I feel like I’ve done my job as a coach. I’m thankful to everybody who played a part. I’m excited to be able to watch this group going forward and see where the program continues to go to, but this program’s meant everything to me.”
Eudy, who comforted Richardson on the sideline towards the end of the match, had nothing but praise for his friend and fellow coach.
“He’s done a great job,” Eudy said. “He’s given his whole heart and soul to that program and that school. So I’m really proud of him. He’s done a great job, so just want to give hats off to him for the job he’s done over there and for what he’s done for SCISA soccer.”
“I’m grateful,” Richardson said of the respect he’s garnered over the years. “It’s a really special community, and Will’s special to me. He’s known me since I was 12. I’m grateful to have been a part of this for as long as I have. I’m excited to see what the future may hold.”
Richardson’s next full time job will be the business he started, The VIII Group, a public relations and communications service. He’s also looking forward to spending more time with his family. However, his passion for coaching might lead him back to the sidelines someday.
“I feel like I have a lot more to give, so just kind of hoping the right opportunity presents itself,” he said. “But I won’t think about that for a while. Right now I’ve got a group of 21 kids that I’m just grateful to have been their coach.”
As for the match, Cardinal Newman outshot the Highlanders 22-1 in the first half, but only led 2-0. Duncan Wilson converted an assist from Grayson White in the 14th minute, and Andres Campo Gonzales bounced a cross of a Heathwood defender into the net in the 27th minute.
“The first half Will Frick was on his head,” Eudy said of the Heathwood keeper who collected 10 saves during those first 40 minutes. “Everything we hit, we either hit right at him or he made a really good save on it.”
The Highlanders came out of the gate strong in the second half nearly converting a breakaway from Max Hagood in the 43rd minute, but Cardinal keeper Ben Pickren was able to maintain the shutout with a foot save.
Hagood got loose less than a minute later, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
Cardinal Newman went back to work after that. Wilson converted a penalty kick to start the 46th minute, and then Matthew Harrison charged towards the right post and ripped a right footer in the left corner for a 4-0 lead in the 47th minute.
Brady Cote added one more in the 62nd minute punching in a right-footer from the left side of the box.
Frick finished with 11 saves for Heathwood. Pickren had two for Cardinal Newman.
The Cardinals have now not allowed a goal in the playoffs since Hammond beat them 3-2 in the 2018 state title match.
“We’ve been lucky to have good players who play back there,” Eudy said of his defense. “Kind of the way that we’ve played, we want to go forward and not give other teams chances. We’ve been lucky to be on the front foot and play really well.”
Eudy will go for his ninth state championship as head coach on Saturday, and his Cardinals will go for their fourth straight.
“If they win four out of every chance they get to win (not counting the COVID year), that’s something that nobody in our program has done,” Eudy said. “That’s always special. That’s always a challenge. Looking forward to whoever we get here and looking forward to playing and getting a chance to compete for it. If we play like we played tonight, we’ve got a good shot.”
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