After a close but no cigar defeat at #2 North Carolina on Labor Day, VCU Men’s Soccer were in action under the lights at Sports Backers on Friday night against Radford. The Highlanders lit up the scoreboard and VCU’s defense with a 4-1 victory leaving the Rams unraveled and desperately looking for answers.
Things got concerning for VCU moments after the opening kickoff. VCU goalkeeper Pierre Gardan collided in mid-air with Radford’s Sivert Daehlie going after a cross just 34 seconds into the match. Gardan landed on the ground clearly in pain holding his lower back as the VCU trainer rushed to his aide; play resumed minutes later with Gardan still in goal for VCU shaken up.
VCU wasted no time with scoring the opening goal just 60 seconds after their keeper went down. Eli Lockaby sprinted down the left sideline pulling in the Highlander defense. Lockaby sent a beautiful curling cross directly to France Amorosino who was in the perfect position from 10 yards out to give VCU a 1-0 lead in the 2’ minute.
Radford quickly answered with the equalizer in the 3’ minute. Jako Strandsater sent a pass from midfield to Finn Tiedemann with VCU’s defense applying pressure. Teidemann made it 1-1 with a touch of his right boot before unleashing a strike with a lot of backspin from nearly 25 yards that hit the back of the net.
Just in the opening minutes, fans in the stands of Sports Backers were treated to an offensive showing between Radford and VCU. The Rams attempted to use their speed to VCU’s advantage looking to create chances on crosses while the Highlanders bullied their way towards promising shots on target.
A couple chances for VCU’s Jorge Herranz and Rafael Andrade Santos either ricocheted of the post, spun just wide or sailed inches over the crossbar. As VCU continued searching for the go-ahead, the Highlanders struck two consecutive goals in rapid succession.
Neil Martorana found the low left corner of the net to put RU up 2-1 in the 24’ minute followed by Evan Szklennik increasing the lead to 3-1 in the 25’ minute after a gift of an assist for an easy tap-in goal.
The Rams were left shellshocked and scatterbrained as VCU tried to stop the bleeding before half-time. Defensively VCU were getting beat on nearly everything and their high energy offense turned ice cold in a matter of minutes.
Even with half-time adjustments and a change in halves VCU’s defensive struggles continued. Martorana doubled his goal count for Radford off the RU corner kick as headed the ball in nearly unchallenged in the 47’ minute to put the Highlanders up 4-1.
Radford continued to pressure VCU like schoolyard bullies as the Highlanders used their physical play to control possession and keep the Rams unbalanced on quick counterattacks. Miscommunications appeared to also be a VCU issue leading to even more promising chances for RU as the back 4 of the Rams clearly looked unsynced.
After a very challenging shift in goal for Gardan, VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard decided switch keepers in the 63’ minute and bring in redshirt Sophomore Joseph Rice.
Amorosino gave VCU some life late in the 2nd half with his second goal of the match off of a Dakota Barnathan assist near the RU goal post in the 83’ minute. The late 2nd half surge was not enough VCU suffers their fourth consecutive defeat to the start the 2016 season.
VCU won’t wait long to turn this losing streak around as Vermont comes to Sports Backers for a match on Sunday, September 11th. Kick-off slated for 3 PM.
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