Radford 4, VMI 0
LEXINGTON, Va. - Three different Radford players scored, including Sahar Aflaki's two goals, helping the visiting Highlanders defeat the VMI Keydets, 4-0, in Big South women's soccer action Tuesday at VMI's Patchin Field. The contest was VMI's Senior Day, marking the final home game for this year's Keydet women's soccer senior class.
Aflaki scored the game's first goal in the 21st minute, as she took a long kick from goalkeeper Lisa Lubke and beat the Keydet defender for the shot from 12 yards out. Lubke was credited with the rare goalkeeper assist on the play, and the Highlanders added another goal later in the period, as Julie Ruh'e tallied in the 35th minute. Radford would then score twice more after halftime, including Aflaki's second goal of the match, to account for the final margin.
RU (13-4, 8-1 Big South) held a 24-7 edge in shots, including 11-1 in shots on goal. Senior Amanda Berrios made seven saves, while Radford's Lubke's lone stop came in the 82nd minute, a diving stop to keep VMI (3-12-2, 0-8-1 BSC) off the scoreboard.
The game began with a great deal of midfield action on the beautiful fall day, as just two shots on goal came in the first 21 minutes. Both were relatively easy saves for Berrios, and the Keydets came back with a near miss, as Sarah Strand's header off a corner kick was just high at 15:09. RU then threatened off a corner kick in the 20th minute, as a corner went off Berrios' hands and was free in the box, but Christina Gontarski cleared it away to momentarily avert the threat.
Less than a minute later, Aflaki got the visitors on the board. Off the deep ball from Lubke, she dribbled three times on the left side of the field, beating the VMI defender and firing a shot to the lower right of the goal for the score.
The Keydets threatened again in the 31st minute. Taylor Armstrong played a perfect cross into the box from Lubke's left, and the ball fell right to Simone Jimenez. Unfortunately for the Keydets, Jimenez's tip was just high, and it remained 1-0, RU.
The Highlanders added another score in the 35th minute, when a cross from the right corner skittered through the box and found the foot of Ruh'e. She put the ball by Berrios and into the lower right corner of the net, making it 2-0, Radford. That would be the score at halftime, as the visitors held a 12-2 edge in shots, but had seen VMI create opportunities via its 3-0 edge in corner kicks.
The second half began with a Berrios save at 48:17, and five minutes later, VMI had its best chance so far. Off a Sarah Putney corner kick from the goalkeeper's right, the ball was deflected about 10 yards from the goal. Gabby McCarron then fired a shot that went just over the crossbar, and the chance went by the wayside.
The next shot on goal did not come until the 69th minute, when Berrios turned aside Mary Wiley. She repeated that effort two minutes against Rachel Conway, but in the 77th minute, RU added to its advantage. Ruh'e had the ball to Berrios' left, just inside the box, and put a crossing pass through to Aflaki. With the ball very close to the VMI keeper, Aflaki was able to tip the ball by Berrios for her second goal of the day, and a 3-0 Highlander advantage.
VMI responded by creating another chance in the 79th minute, when Allie Segura had a header off a corner kick go wide. RU nearly took a 4-0 lead in the 81st minute, but a violation whistled off an apparent score, and on the counterattack, the Keydets generated their best chance of the day. Putney made a 1 vs 1 move from about 20 yards, just to the right of Lubke, and fired a shot towards the net. The Highlander keeper made a diving save going to her right, keeping the shutout intact.
Radford ended the scoring in the 85th minute, when Jourdan McDaniel evaded a VMI defender in the box and slipped a quick pass to Alexa Barnes for the final goal of the game. The Keydets had one more chance to end the shutout, but a header by Jimenez was wide with just over a minute to play.
Despite the Highlanders' previously mentioned 24-7 edge in shots, the Keydets were able to generate chances, as evidenced by their 8-6 edge in corner kicks.
VMI will end its season Thursday, taking on Campbell in Buies Creek, N.C. Match time is set for 5:00pm.
The Highlanders encounter a tough road contest at Campbell on Saturday, Oct. 29 in their regular season finale. Game time is set for 7:00pm.