Highlanders Finish Strong in Finale vs. Gardner-Webb

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By: Lucas Carr | lcarr15@radford.edu

The Radford women’s soccer team claimed a 2-0 victory over Gardner-Webb for their last regular-season home game. An impressive offensive attack from the Highlanders forced a goal in each period and improved the team to a 7-1 home record.

Radford was coming off of a 0-1 loss to Campbell University the previous Saturday. The Highlanders were looking to bounce back against Gardner-Webb and did so with great confidence. 

Senior Nelia Perez got off to a quick start within the first six minutes of the first period. Freshman Mia Wood stole the ball from the opposition and found Brianna Oliver on the left-wing.

Oliver then skipped the ball over to Perez on the opposite side of the box. She then took two dribbles around a pair of Runnin’ Bulldog defenders, and with a low gliding shot, found the back of the net and put the Highlanders up 1-0. 

Perez and Oliver were not done with their offensive prowess in the second half. However, their roles reversed for the final goal of the match. 

Perez found Oliver in the middle of the pitch after running through a gauntlet of defenders. Another wall of defenders stood in the way, seeming to end the attacking play, but Oliver made a nice move past both defenders and took a shot with her left foot that found the back of the net effortlessly. 

The 59th-minute goal was the last of the match and sent the Runnin’ Bulldogs packing. The Highlanders chose not to relent, however, consistently attacking the goal.

A total of 22 shots, split evenly by each period, were taken by the Highlanders. Gabi Paupst lead the way with seven shots. Though the aggressive pursuit was nonstop, the Gardner-Webb goalkeeper saved nine total would-be shots from tallying goals for the Highlanders.

Two goalkeepers saw playing time for the Highlanders. Courtenay Kaplan and Lexi Dean both had three saves in each of their respective halves played. With Perez’s first-half goal, she broke the tie between herself and Paupst, tallying a total of nine goals on the season.

When head coach Ben Sohrabi was asked about the overall performance of the Highlanders, he said, “I thought we started the game with intensity. I thought we were tough early.”  

Sohrabi gave credit to Lily McLane and Mia Wood for the amount of running they did throughout the game on defense. 

“An average soccer player runs about seven miles a game,” Sohrabi said, “I would guess they ran more than that tonight.”

The Highlanders are going into the Big South Conference Championships beginning on November 1st. They come with the best overall regular-season record in the conference. 

Brianna Oliver, the owner of one of the goals and an assist on the night, said that this win “should definitely help with our confidence level,” and, “our hopes are high.”

For more Radford Women’s Soccer and other Highlander sports, stay connected with your Tartan newspaper.

Photo Credit: (Radford Athletics)