Fall sports season opens at Radford University
RADFORD – All the arrows have been pointing in the right direction as the third year of the Marc Reeves men’s soccer coaching administration opens at Radford University this fall.
The most prominent indication of the rising fortunes of the Highlanders program is last year’s 9-8-3 (4-4-1 Big South) record, the first winning ledger in the past four here. Included among the victories was a pair over two conference champions who went on to play in the NCAA tournament.
There is another less obvious indication that Radford soccer is on its way. The Highlanders led the Big South Conference in home attendance last year. The team responded to the support by going 8-1-2 at Cupp Stadium the past two seasons.
Reeves likes what he’s seen so far on the pitch the past two years.
“To be over .500 against the schedule we had with six teams that went to the NCAA tournament was a good building block for our second season,” Reeves said.
Radford, which was picked fourth in this season’s preseason conference poll, returns significant contributors from a year ago on both offense and defense. Two of the top four scorers are back in junior midfielder Luis Grande (19 points, eight goals) and junior midfielder Chel Ho Park Kim (eight assists).
The defense is backstopped by two quality goal keepers in veterans Ryan Taylor (14 starts, 43 saves) and Dane Wilson (13 saves).
Radford graduated seven seniors last year.
“We have a great group of returning players who have been through at least one or two seasons with us who understand what it takes to have real success,” Reeves said.
WOMEN’S SOCCER: Ben Sohrabi’s 17th team as Highlanders coach is loaded. To the team that tied for the Big South regular season title for the second year in a row, the Highlanders return 10 starters including the top-three goal scorers from an unusually balanced attack and preseason defensive player of the year Tyler Drake.
Campbell has been picked ahead of No. 2 Radford (by two points) in the preseason poll released Monday.
That probably doesn’t worry Radford (15-6-1 last year) much, not with reigning defensive player of the year Drake anchoring a back line that contributed to 12 shutouts and a puny 0.49 goals against average. When Radford isn’t putting the clamps on enemy offenses, Julie Ruh’e, Sahar Aflaki, and former Radford High School standout Mary Wiley (combined 20 goals, nine assists in 2011) are back to lead an offense that had 19 different players contribute a goal or assist last year.
VOLLEYBALL: Major momentum coming into the season was established as long ago as last year, when the Highlanders surged to conference tournament runner-up finish under league coach of the year to be Marci Jenkins. Fourteen letterwinners return from the first Radford squad to play in the tournament title game since 2001.
The most heralded of the veterans is 6-foot-1 sophomore Emma Deininger, announced this week as a member of the preseason all-league team. Deininger led the team in blocks per game (0.97) and attack percentage ( .289) last year in what has been described as one of the best seasons ever for a Highlanders freshman.
FIELD HOCKEY: Coming off a 7-13 season, Coach Jeff Woods’ team is rebuilding with a roster largely made up of underclassmen. There are only two juniors and no seniors on the team. Of the returnees only sophomore forward Ashton Cox (three goals), junior back Alayna Versage, sophomore back Amy Kinkler, sophomore back Kellen Keys, and junior goal keeper Sidney Encarnacion have had any starting experience whatsoever. Cox is the only player who has scored a college goal. Encarnacion did start all 17 games in which she played and recorded 81 saves.
CROSS COUNTRY: The call has gone out from Coach Sean Bossman: Highlanders cross country is looking for runners who can join the teams as walk-ons. Tryouts are scheduled for 3 p.m. Aug. 29 on the Cupp Stadium track. The Highlanders struggled last year at times, particularly in the conference. At the Big South meet in October, the highest Radford women’s finisher came in 34th; for the men 20th was the best result.
No Comments »
No comments yet.