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Radford Men’s Soccer suffers a heartbreaking defeat in a game of missed chances

Davis Byrd | dbyrd16@radford.edu

Radford Men’s Soccer suffers a heartbreaking defeat in a game of missed chances. The Highlanders fall to Presbyterian in the semifinal of the Big South Tournament 5-3 on penalties.It just felt like one of those games for the Highlanders Wednesday evening; two sides set up against each other showing plenty of defensive rigidity on a cold, rainy night showing the essence of what the game is about. The first half kicked off, and the Highlanders quickly began to control the game in the wet affair at Patrick D. Cupp Stadium in our own Radford, VA. The Highlanders quickly began to pepper the Presbyterian goal with shots, clattering a hard shot against the post and crossbar, putting a handful of shots inches wide and forcing a few saves of Presbyterian’s goalie. They could not, however, find that incisive finish to give them the lead and the half ended at the two teams level. Radford was dominant in possession and creating chances in the first half, having eight shots to Presbyterian’s 1.

The 2nd half breathed life into the game and quickly became an edge of your seat, end-to-end affair. Presbyterian grew into the game and began to contest the Highlanders, and the Highlanders were let off the hook when a 1-on-1 in the 50th minute with RU goalkeeper Nicholas Mertzokat and a Presbyterian forward ended in a shot being struck just wide of Mertzokat’s far post. This let-off seemed to fire up the Highlanders who quickly surged forward once again and forced a save from Presbyterian’s goalie and putting a long-range shot just over the crossbar.

The Highlanders kept on spurring forward as the game continued to go on, with another long-range strike from Radford pushed just over the bar once again, and a free kick tipped wide. Mertzokat was called into action once again as he came out the victor in another one on 1 to keep the score knotted at 0-0. Radford forced one more good save just before the end of regulation before defending their penalty area well.

The game headed on into extra time. The game shaped up even more from the start of the first added on period. Both sides were giving everything into every attack trying to find the winner in the dying embers of this rainy night game. The game continued to be a duel between both team’s defenses. Presbyterian was thwarted on yet another 1-on-1 with Mertzokat when they missed just wide. Presbyterian’s goalie was then called into action to make a double save from the Highlanders who were desperate to put the ball into the back of the net in their bid to further their tournament aspirations. Neither side could find the breakthrough though.

The game headed on into penalties as it seemed like this entertaining game could go on forever, and the rabid Highlander fans would back them to the end. The Highlanders were unfortunately felled 5-3 on penalties in a game where they would most certainly rue their missed chances.

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