Men’s Soccer struggles over weekend

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Sean Karoly

skaroly@radford.edu

 

 

The Radford University Men’s Soccer team faced two tough squads last week as they took on Virginia Tech Tuesday, Oct. 23 away and nationally ranked Coastal Carolina at home on Saturday, Oct. 27. Both games ended lopsided with losses to scores of 1-0 and 4-1, respectively.

The Highlanders first traveled to Blacksburg, where they looked to extend their unbeaten streak to nine games. It was a hard task to conquer considering RU hadn’t won at Thompson Field since 2000.

Although the score reflected a potentially very defensive game on both sides of the field, the statistics begged to differ.

The Highs out shot the Hokies 20-10, and also led them in shots on goal 9-5. They also led the Hokies in corner kicks by a tally of 5-2.

However, Tech capitalized on arguably its best scoring chance of the game. Midfielder Jed Prater kicked the ball into the box from outside, where forward Kai Marshall was able to get a head on it and beat senior goalkeeper Ryan Taylor to make the score 1-0.

The one goal was all the Hokies needed, but not due to a lack of effort on the part of the Highs. Ball control favored the Highs in both halves, and led to eight first half shots and 12 second half shots.

Junior midfielders Bernardo Ulmo and Chel Ho Park Kim put a combined York five shots on goal, but Hokie goalkeeper Kyle Renfro proved to be unstoppable.

Renfro blocked all nine shots on goal by the Highs, including two early shots Ulmo, a hard ground ball shot by sophomore midfielder Dario Redondo, and a bullet by freshman defender Jamie Summers from the top of the penalty box.

Despite the rough loss, Head Coach Marc Reeves was pleased with his team’s performance on the field.

“We played some great soccer and had a majority of the possession,” Reeves said. “We had numerous chances to score, but came up against an informed goal keeper, and we were not as clinical as we needed to be.”

The team had to quickly put the game behind them, when they faced their toughest opponent of the year, Coastal Carolina.

The Highs got off to a great start, as junior defender Matt Janssen received a pass from freshman midfielder Jannik Eckenrode, took the ball himself up to the left side of the box, and drilled a shot into the top right part of the net to give the Highs an early 1-0 advantage in the third minute of the game.

Despite a couple strong early saves by Taylor, the

early saves by Taylor, the nation’s lead scoring team wasted little time in tying up the match, as midfielder Pedro Ribeiro headed in a corner kick by midfielder Justin Portillo in the 10th minute.

Nine minutes later, forward Ashton Bennett played a give-and-go with Justin Portillo into the box and bent a ball past Taylor into the upper left corner of the net.

The Highs were able to hold the Chanticleers off for over fifty minutes after their second goal, but eventually gave up a goal to forward Ricky Garbanzo, who beat Taylor in a one-on-one situation in the 73rd minute.

Less than eight minutes later, Bennett tallied his second goal and league leading 13th goal of the year to push the score 4-1.

“Coastal is such a talented team and doesn’t really have any weaknesses,” Reeves claimed. “Our energy wasn’t good enough to compete with a top-ten team today. As a group we need to refocus quickly and get ready for our next contest.”

With the victory, Coastal Carolina claimed the Big South regular season title.

The Highs play one more game Saturday, Nov. 3 against Winthrop University before the Big South Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 6.