By: Zach Potter | firstname.lastname@example.org
Radford Women’s Soccer defeated Gardner-Webb 2-1 on Sunday in Matthews, NC, claiming their second straight title as Big South Champions.
The Highlanders finished a comeback effort dramatically from 1-0 and scoring two goals in the second half. Nelia Perez scored the late winner, which sealed the victory for Radford.
The first half saw Radford only firing five shots. This had to change in the second half for the Highlanders to have any hope of winning the game.
Radford seemed to feel the urgency and came out in the second half firing on all cylinders. Gardner-Webb wouldn’t let them off easy as their stout defense made it difficult for any Radford attack.
Thanks to a Gardner-Webb foul, Lily McLane got a chance to tie the game up with a free-kick from about 35-yards out. McLane nailed the ball and placed it in the top left corner of the goal, over the outstretched hands of the goalkeeper.
The Bulldogs came back with an attack of their own. They had one shot graze the crossbar and two more saved by Radford goalkeeper Courtenay Kaplan.
Gabi Paupst managed to break away from the defense for the Highlanders. She drove the ball down the field and found Perez with a perfect pass.
Perez got past the defense and went toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs’ goalie. She found an opening and drove a shot right at the oncoming keeper. The keeper, Katelyn Kellogg, stretched her hands out and only managed to graze it with her fingertips. But that wouldn’t be enough as the ball rolled into the goal.
The Highlanders kept the pressure on and fired three more shots compared to the Bulldogs’ one to become Big South Champions for the second straight year.
Radford managed 18 shots compared to Gardner-Webb’s 11. The Bulldogs also had twice as many fouls at 14 compared to Radford’s seven.
The Highlanders have now claimed their seventh Big South Tournament title. That gives Radford more championships than anyone else in the Big South Conference. Radford now has finished the season with 16 wins and a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Perez and Kaplan will look to lead the Highlanders as they face one of their toughest tests of the season this upcoming Friday. Radford is set to face the University of Virginia in the field of 64 in the NCAA Tournament.
Radford hopes to upset a top-ranked Virginia team and put their names in the record books like a similar underdog named UMBC.
Photo Credit: (Radford Athletics)