I missed the game...and was sure the text message updates coming in were a prank meant to punish me for my absence. Another for Bates? Then another? Then 4?
Amazingly, it was true. Bates scored 4 goals, tying a personal high and falling one short of a 49-year old team record, to lead the Hoos over Radford 4-3. The win snapped a 2-game skid for Virginia (5-3-0), who dropped out of the most recent top 25 polling.
Bates's scores all came in the first 20 minutes and staked the team to a 4-0 lead. They demonstrated a mixture of poor defending, pinpoint shooting, and just being in the right place at the right time. The first pair came on through balls, in which Will snuck behind the defense, the next off a free kick, and the last on a header placed perfectly in the top right corner. Eric Bird, Calvin Rezende, and Cobi Span picked up assists, as UVA dominated the first half.
What appeared to be a rout became a nail-biter when Radford took control after halftime, outshooting UVA by an astounding 15-3. Two quick goals by Radford (3-3-0) around the 60th minute made it 4-3. The fans at Klockner were able to let out a sigh of relief when a perfect midfield strike from Anthony Payner barely caromed off the crossbar in the 85th minute.
After a heartbreaking loss to Charlotte last week, a collapse against the Highlanders would have been devastating. Instead, UVA has a little momentum back going into its ACC home opener Friday at 7 against North Carolina at Klockner Field.