September 30th, 2017
By Julian Wolz
RADFORD, Va – The Radford University, men’s soccer team looked dominant as they cruised to a 4-0 victory over UNC Asheville Saturday night. “We played well and consistent throughout the game,” said Koby Johnson; senior goalie for the Highlanders.
Kieran Roberts, a redshirt junior forward from Bournemouth, England continued to be hot leading the way for the Highlanders. He finished the game with a hat-trick, second of his career and his third multi-goal game of the season. “He’s been hot,” said Johnson, “he has been playing great lately.” His first goal came very early in the game. Roberts scored off a beautiful cross made by senior Evan Szklennik only six minutes into the game.
The redshirt junior did not wait long to strike again, scoring off another assist by Szklennik only twenty minutes later. For this goal, however, Roberts had a little more work to do. Instead of just tapping in an easy shot for his previous goal, the leading scorer for Radford delivered a hard shot from deep into the upper right corner just avoiding the goalie’s outreached arms.
The final goal of the first half for the Highlander’s came off another perfect assist made by Evan Szklennik. The senior forward led a perfect through pass to Sivert Daehlie, a junior forward from Holter, Norway who finished off the play with a beautiful shot from about six yards out. Daehlie now has a goal in six straight games and is also within two goals of moving up to ninth on the all-time scoring list at Radford.
UNC Asheville had their fair share of chances. The Bulldogs finished the game with a total of 10 shots, but only three of which were on goal. All three of UNC Asheville’s shots on goal came in the first half, with their best chance coming at the very end of the first half from a header after a free kick. Radford’s goalie Nicolas Mertzokat, who is also a captain, had to make a diving save to keep the Bulldogs off the board.
The second half continued with more of the same. Within the first five minutes of the second half, the Highlanders would have had another goal, but it was called off because of an offside’s penalty. This penalty did not deter their attack as they continued to push forward. “After every goal, we looked to get another instead of just being content,” said Johnson, “Everyone executed their role, and the goals came.”
The final goal for the Highlanders once again came off of the foot of Kieran Roberts. The shot came from the far left side after an assist by Evan Szklennik. UNC Asheville tried to get in the way of the shot, but instead of stopping Roberts’s powerful kick, the ball deflected off the Bulldog defender and ricocheted into the goal. Roberts’ hat-trick added three goals to his season total which is now 11.
With this win under their belt, the Highlanders are now 6-2-1 which has them in first place in the Big South. “Our goal that we are reaching for is to at least win one game in the (NCAA) tournament,” said Johnson. If the Highlanders continue to play the way they did against UNC Asheville, this goal is a legitimate possibility.
UNC Asheville continued their season of struggles that has landed them at the bottom of the Big South. The Bulldogs are second to last in the conference and hold a record of 1-9. “Tough result tonight,” said Mathes Mennell; UNC Asheville’s head coach, “The Big South race is going to have lots of twists and turn. We have to expect to take advantage of our opportunities moving forward.” With fierce competition ahead of the Bulldogs, the team needs to be at its best to remain in contention.