VMI women’s soccer falls to Radford, 1-0
An unfortunate deflection with just over 30 minutes to go led to the only goal of the game, as the Radford Highlanders squeaked past the VMI Keydets, 1-0, in non-conference women’s soccer action Friday at Lexington’s Patchin Field.
In the 57th minute, a long ball rolled into the VMI (1-6) defensive zone along the near sideline. Sydnie Bligh backtracked and let it roll, hoping to ensure a Keydet possession, but the ball continued to roll along the line. Bligh then attempted to clear the ball away, but the kick caromed off a Radford (2-4-1) player and immediately to the feet of Highlander Kara Wade. Wade had a near-breakaway as a result of the Keydets’ misfortune and scored easily, giving RU a 1-0 lead it would not relinquish.
The match was a physical, hard-fought battle throughout on the overcast afternoon, with numerous stoppages for injuries in the second half. Radford held a 14-9 edge in shots and a 7-3 advantage in corner kicks, while both VMI’s Emily Marbury and RU’s Katie McCormick made three saves.
The visitors controlled the pace early, but much of it was from outside the box. Radford did put the match’s first shot on goal, doing so in the 18th minute when Marbury stopped a Caitlin Annear try. That earned RU a corner kick and Hannah Duff nearly put the Highlanders ahead moments later, when she clanged a shot off the post from 12 yards out. The ball bounced away harmlessly to keep the match scoreless.
There would not be another shot attempt until the 33rd minute, when Allie Segura put VMI’s first try on net. She was turned aside by McCormick, however, as was Kristen Whitehurst in the 40th minute as the match went to halftime scoreless.
VMI’s momentum from those two offensive threats continued early in the second half, as Emily Adams put a shot on goal in the 47th minute and just moments later, Segura hit the crossbar to keep the match scoreless. Killian Buckley then put a try wide, and the next sequence led to Wade’s eventual game-winning goal.
Marbury turned aside Radford attempts in the 73rd and 75th minutes, and the Keydets put together offensive rallies late. Nicole Blixt missed wide on a header at 77:59, and in the 85th minute, Whitehurst missed high on one of VMI’s best chances all day. Adams executed a long throw from the sideline that made it into the box. Blixt got a foot on it and tipped it to Whitehurst, but the resultant shot was no good.
The Keydets had the ball as time ran out, but a Bligh service into the box was fielded by McCormick as time ran out, allowing the visitors to hang on for the win.
“I’m proud of our entire team,” said VMI head coach Bryan Williams. “The women left everything out on the field today. We created numerous offensive chances and as a whole, starting with Emily Marbury and continuing all the way forward, showed great improvement. Kristen Whitehurst, Killian Buckley and Nicole Blixt are just three of the players who did a great job today. We look forward to usc Upstate on Sunday and then the start of the conference season.”