Fueled by an explosive start from senior forward, Will Bates, the Virginia men’s soccer team defeated Radford 4-3 at home Tuesday night. Bates made scoring look effortless, finding the net four times in the first 20 minutes. As the Highlanders (3-3-0) fell, the Cavaliers (5-3-0) earned a much-needed rebound after dropping their last two games and heading into three straight ACC match-ups in the next two weeks.
The Cavs scored off their first shot in the 4th minute as freshman midfielder, Eric Bird’s through ball set up Bates’ powerful strike into the right corner of the goal. Less than 2 minutes later, Bates drilled the ball in a similar play off a cross from freshman midfielder, Calvin Rezende. When asked about his outstanding start, Bates was quick to give credit to his teammates saying, “those were the guys that made it happen.”
With nine on the season, Bates advances to the top of the ACC leader-board for goals scored. Perhaps his most impressive goal of the night came in the 15th minute as Bates curled a free kick past Radford defense and goalkeeper into the net from 20 yards out.
The Cavs continued to dominate possession time as Radford struggled to keep up. Bates headed in his career-high fourth goal off an assist by sophomore forward, Brian Span. Coach George Gelnovatch commented, “we couldn’t have asked for a better start. I felt like they [Radford] were chasing shadows we were moving so well.”
The Virginia squad seemed to lose its power and energy as the game continued. Coach Gelnovatch explained that due to injuries, suspensions from last Friday’s game against Charlotte and sickness his squad “got tired, we didn’t have depth, and we had a lot of young guys on the field.”
Radford’s senior forward, Iyiola Awosika, took advantage of a penalty kick in the 39th minute giving his team a confidence boost going into the half with a point on the board.
The Highlanders looked much more determined the second half as they out-shot the Cavaliers 15-3. Two successive goals 15 minutes into the half, one by Awosika and the second by sophomore midfielder, Luis Grande, put Virginia fans and players on their toes as Radford advanced the score to 4-3.
Impressive goalkeeping by freshman goalkeeper, Spencer LaCivita, who recorded six saves off the night and senior defenseman, Greg Monaco helped the Cavs hold off the Highlanders for the win. Radford’s closest chance came with five minutes left in the game off a wild shot from midfield by Anthony Payne that sailed over LaCivita’s head and slammed off the crossbar.
This Friday, Virginia (1-0 ACC) will finish their four-game homestand against No. 5 North Carolina in their second ACC match-up of the season. The Tarheels (6-1-0) remain one of the Cavaliers’ toughest rivalries as the last six match-ups have been decided by one goal. The game is slated for 7 p.m. at Klöckner Stadium.