Radford University left no doubt on the field when it came to earning a quarterfinal bye in next week’s Big South Tournament as the Highlanders rolled to a 4-2 victory over conference rival Liberty in the regular season finale Wednesday evening.
With the win, Radford earns the No. 2 seed in the Big South Tournament and will play the winner of the No. 3 Campbell/No. 6 Presbyterian matchup on Nov. 8.
Radford finished with a blistering 21 shots and 11 on frame, but made the most of its efforts in the first half. The Highlanders took 13 shots with six on goal, recording four goals in the first 45 minutes.
Three different Highlanders tallied a goal in the win and four assisted on goals in the victory. Jakob Strandsäter tallied two goals in the win with Victor Valls assisting on both goals.
Coming out of the gate blazing, Radford found net on its third shot as Victor Valls collected the ball off a Flames’ turnover, passing to a striding Strandsäter on the right side. Strandsäter finished to the low right corner for his third goal of the season.
Following two opportunities by Liberty that Nicolas Mertzokat contained between the pipes, Radford struck again in the 18th minute off another Flames’ turnover. Strandsäter gained possession of the ball after a Liberty defender whiffed on clearing the ball at the end line to prevent a Highlander corner kick.
Already with one goal, Strandsäter shared the wealth, sending a cross into the left side of the box to Evan Szklennik. Szklennik took the ball in the middle of the box, firing to the low left corner for a 2-0 lead.
Ten minutes and four combined shots later, Strandsäter was at it again. For the second time in the match, Valls gained possession off a Liberty turnover, sending a low through ball past the back line. Kieran Roberts back-heel flicked the ball to Strandsäter, who beat the Flames’ goalkeeper to the left corner for his second career multi-goal match.
Liberty got on the board in the 34th minute as Tresor Mbuyu collected his 10th goal, inching the Flames within 3-1.
Before the end of the first half, Radford answered the Liberty goal in the 39th minute. The Highlanders earned a corner kick as Fraser Colmer played a beautiful ball into the near side of the box. Sivert Daehlie stalked his man, putting his head on the ball for another header goal and his 12th on the season.
In the second half, Radford took eight shots, including five on goal between the 53rd and 59th minutes. The Highlander defense held the Flames to only two real shots on goal as Liberty’s second goal came in the 67th minute on a penalty kick off the foot of Kevin Mendoza.
Radford improves to 25-24-12 in the all-time series, increasing its winning streak over Liberty to five straight. Jakob Strandsäter collected his second career multi-goal match, joining Kieran Roberts and Victor Valls with two-plus goals in a match.
Fraser Colmer assisted on his fifth goal in 2017, increasing his career total to 22, moving into a two-way tie for fifth all-time. Evan Szklennik entered the match with seven assists and tallied his first goal of the season.
Sivert Daehlie tallied his 12th goal on the season, giving him 30 career goals, becoming only the sixth Highlander to scored 30-plus goals in a career. Nicolas Mertzokat finished with four saves, increasing his total to 59 on the year. Radford finished with a 21-13 shot edge, with a 11-6 clip on goal. The Highlanders finished with a 5-3 corner kick advantage.