Radford University Men’s Soccer made for a very happy homecoming with two consecutive Big South wins over Virginia Military Institute and High Point University on Oct. 12 and Oct. 15. RU’s first contest against the Keydets was a 4-1 Highlander victory. Every goal in the game came in the second half, after the first 45 minutes ended on a 0-0 tie, with RU holding an 11-3 advantage in shots.
“It wasn’t even just the first half of this game,” said sophomore defender James Jordan after the win over VMI. “The past three games we haven’t done a good enough job offensively but we knew that if we just kept working the chance would come, we’ve got creative plays.”
Jordan scored the second of RU’s four second half goals, less than two minutes after sophomore midfielder Luis Grande put RU on the board with a ball that was misplayed by VMI keeper Taylor Feuerstein, allowing Grande to give the Highlanders a 1-0 advantage.
The goal was Grande’s third of the season, and Jordan’s goal two minutes prior was his first of the season.
“The team played hard,” Grande said, “we run, we tackle and do all the simple things that the coach asks us to do.”
After Grande and Jordan gave RU a 2-0 second half lead, VMI’s junior midfielder Kip Zechman, fired a shot from 35 yards out, and managed to get the Keydets on the board, cutting RU’s lead to 2-1. It wasn’t enough, and the Keydets gave up two more goals afterward, allowing the Highlanders to come away with a 4-1 victory.
“They are very tough,” Grande said, “they’re a very physical team, and they compete until the end of the game.”
Radford overall, outshot the Keydets 22-6, and was awarded six corner kicks in the match.
“We have to be patient, not get frustrated, and continue to move the ball a little faster,” said Head Coach Marc Reeves. “We have to create quality chances opposed to just long shots from distance or individual plays, and you know, that shows in the goals we scored.”
The Highlanders followed up their victory on Oct. 12 with a 1-0 victory over High Point University on Oct. 15 before a crowd of 965 fans. The victory was the third win that day for RU athletics after the women’s soccer victory over Winthrop University, and the volleyball victory over Coastal Carolina.
Both teams in the first half gave up chances and both at the break recorded six shots apiece. RU came into the second half on a 0-0 tie, and the game winning goal for the Highlanders didn’t come until about 15 minutes before the end of the game. Senior midfielder Anthony Payne fired an unassisted blast from 40 yards out, which made it past the Panthers’ senior goalkeeper Michael Chesler, and RU was able to hold onto the lead until the final whistle.
“We worked a lot,” said senior forward Iyiola Awosika. “We played real hard, we just had to keep running and hopefully get a result and we did. It was a complete team effort.”
Overall, RU outshot the Panthers 14-11, and all five corner kicks of the game were awarded to High Point as well.
“I think we had good performances from a lot of individuals,” said Reeves after the win over High Point. “You know Dario and Anthony were exceptional in the middle of midfield, Louis, Bernardo, Iyiola and Chel were very good on the attack inside of it, and our backfield and our keeper did a good job as well, so you know that’s sort of naming every play of it.”
The Highs have outscored their opponents, 26-18 on the season. Additionally, sophomore goalkeeper Dane Wilson, who has started four games this season in place of the usual starter, junior Ryan Taylor, is giving up less than one goal per match (0.90).
The two wins during the week improved the Highs to a record of 7-6 on the season, with a 3-2 record in the Big South conference. Their next game will be a road contest against Winthrop on Oct. 19 when the Highlanders travel to Rock Hill, South Carolina to play the Winthrop Eagles.