RADFORD, Va. - Despite holding a 12-5 advantage in corner kicks, the Virginia Tech men’s soccer team dropped a tight contest to the Radford Highlanders 2-1 in the Hokies’ final exhibition of the season.
“Tonight was a tale of two halves. The Highlanders really put on a clinic in the opening minutes as far as how to get on top of a team and press,” head coach Mike Brizendine explained. “I was really disappointed in our energy. We gave up some chances and they were able to take advantage of it.”
The Hokies got off to a slow start and Radford was able to capitalize on a pair of opportunities to take the lead.
In the 5th minute of the game, Radford’s Garland Smith received a through ball at the top of the box. After beating his defender, Smith placed the ball past an outstretched Kyle Renfro to take the 1-0 lead.
Just two minutes later, Radford capitalized on a corner kick to give the Highlanders a 2-0 lead.
Tech put some pressure on the Highlanders in the 20th minute, earning a pair of corner kicks with the last one resulting in a near miss off of the head of senior David Clemens.
Both teams failed to get much going for the rest of the first half and headed into the second stanza with the score still standing at 2-0 in favor of Radford.
The Hokies came out of the break with new life, producing several chances in the offensive third and outshooting the Highlanders 7-3.
“The second half was a different situation,” said Brizendine. “We had a number of opportunities and were able to produce several shots and corner kicks. I wish we would have been able to capitalize on those a little bit better but I was really pleased with the fight we showed in the second half.”
In the 48th minute sophomore Deven Mason almost got one back for Tech but the Highlanders’ goalkeeper was able to thwart the attempt on goal.
A corner kick would see the Hokies bring the game back within one after senior Robert Alberti sent a lofted ball to junior Andre Thomas. Thomas nodded the ball to a streaking Clemens who put the ball past the Highlander keeper to make the game 2-1.
Sophomore Daniel Lauretano almost evened up the game in the 67th minute when he hit a left-footed shot at the goal, but the Radford goalkeeper was able to make the save.
Minutes later, the Hokies had another opportunity to level things up when freshman Brandon Eaton nearly finished a Deven Mason cross.
A corner kick in the final two minutes almost resulted in a goal but sophomore Deven Mason was unable to redirect the ball into the goal.
"Today was a good building block and we're ready to get started with our season," Brizendine concluded.
The Hokies open the regular season next weekend with a pair of matches against Binghamton and Fordham at the JMU Tournament.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).