CHARLESTON, S.C. - No. 1 Radford edges No. 3 Campbell in the title game of the 2011 Big South Women's Soccer Championship presented by Musco Sports Lighting Sunday afternoon at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. Co-regular-season champion Radford receives the Big South's automatic bid to the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship and becomes the first No. 1 seed to win the Conference championship since former associate member South Alabama in 1997. The Highlanders capture their first Big South title since 2008 and fourth overall - tied for the most in League history.
Both teams came out firing in the first half, as tournament MVP Sahar Aflaki tried to put two on net in the first three and a half minutes of action, but couldn't get anything past Campbell's Ryan Torrero. In return, the Camels' Pirjo Leppikangas had two shots of her own, but RU's Lisa Lubke stood tall as well. The two teams combined for a total of 19 shots in the first half, with Lubke and Torrero coming up with 12 saves between them.
The second half was much of the same, as Radford again put two shots up in the first minute of action. The Highlanders' persistence finally paid off in the 79th minute of action. Sydney Golden sent a free kick over to Megan Rhodes, who headed it in for the goal to put Radford up 1-0.
Campbell's Ashley Clark had a flurry of shots - six total for the game, but couldn't find the back of the net. Radford Goalkeeper Che' Brown, who replaced Lubke for the second half, made two saves to assure the Highlanders would get the win.
Clark led the Camels with six of their 14 shots, four of which came on goal. Rhodes led the Highlanders with five attempts, while Mary Wiley and Aflaki each put up four as Radford ended the day with 15 overall shots and 10 on goal. Brown and Lubke would combine for seven saves and the shutout win.
Top individual scorers for Radford: Megan Rhodes (goal), Sydney Golden (assists). Campbell: Ashley Clark (six shots).
Team shots on goal: Radford - 10, Campbell - 7. Goalkeepers: Radford - Lisa Lubke (6-4-1) five saves, replaced at half by Che' Brown (9-1-0) two saves. CU - Ryan Torrero (12-4-2) nine saves.
Sahar Aflaki was named Tournament MVP for her play in Radford's three games. Joining Aflaki on the All-Tournament Team were teammates Maryellen Derenda, Sydney Golden, and Rachel Conway; Pirjo Leppikangas, Annabelle Gibney and Taylor Brown from runner-up Campbell; Courtney Durbin and Allie VandeWater from Winthrop; Helena Pereira and Kelly Henion from Liberty; Kelli Joline (High Point), Heather Muller (UNC Asheville), Megan Reimer (Gardner-Webb) and Stephanie Hand (Charleston Southern) round out the All-Tournament squad.
Radford improves to 16-5-1 on the year, while Campbell drops to 15-6-2. It was the first meeting between Radford and Campbell in the Conference Tournament.
Radford earned the Big South Championship title and receives an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Find out who they will play on November 7 on ESPN U.
Radford Head Coach Ben Sohrabi
"At first I want to give a lot of credit to Campbell because they're an extremely good team. Coach Clark has done a remarkable job this year. Set pieces decide games in championships and Megan rose up and was a hero. The rest of the team buckled down and finished. The feeling of going to the NCAA's is incredible. I've done it before and it never gets old. For these girls, I'm so happy that they get to experience it"
Campbell Head Coach Todd Clark
"I'm exceptionally proud of our team. Radford is a great team and even though our kids won't realize it today, the runner-up trophy we received is a great accomplishment. Four or five years ago we were all over the place, and now we're in the conference finals just one goal away. I'm also really proud of our three seniors: Annabelle Gibney, Marisa Muller and Jamie Panfil. They've been with us for four years and have seen the program make great strides each year."