Winthrop kept its slim hopes for the top seed in the Big South Conference Tournament alive on Sunday with a 2-0 win over Radford in a soccer match that saw both teams give lackluster performances at Eagle Field.
"We did what we had to do and we still have a chance," Winthrop coach Rich Posipanko said. "My main concern is the health of the team. I had three of my four defenders on the bench."
Junior Henri Kalungi, an All-Big South Conference first-team selection last season, tweaked a minor injury early in the match and went to the bench. Senior John Gilkerson, another BSC first-team performer, hobbled off early in the second half with a hip pointer.
Sophomore Matthew Skonicki, an all-freshman team selection in 2006, hasn't played in several weeks.
"Fortunately, we have a non-league game at Elon on Wednesday," Posipanko said. "We have to get everybody healthy for our last two conference matches and the tournament."
The Eagles host UNC Asheville on Oct. 31 and Coastal Carolina on Nov. 7. At stake is the No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the conference tournament scheduled for Eagle Field on Nov. 15, 16 and 18.
"Radford's a better team than they showed and we're a better team than we showed," Posipanko said. "I was really surprised by the lack of intensity considering it was a league game and both teams still have a shot at the top seed."
Winthrop must win its last two and get some help to earn the top spot.
"It's an outside chance at best," Posipanko said. "But, we put ourselves in this position. If we can't get the number one seed, then we have to go out and play hard for the best spot we can."
The Eagles (8-2-2, 2-1-1) got on the board first when Stephen Nsereko looped a long shot over the outstretched hands of Radford goalie Zach Roszel. The goal came after the Eagles missed a golden opportunity in the 11th minute.
Preseason conference player of the year Saidi Isaac was fouled in the box, setting up the one-on-one matchup between Winthrop's Sean Weron and Roszel. Roszel guessed correctly that the Eagles' senior was going to the right side of the goal and made the diving stop.
Neither team could mount much of an offense until Nsereko took a throw-in about 25 yards from the goal. Nsereko beat his defender, and then launched a rainbow from the left side that found the right side of the net.
Nsereko played a big role in Winthrop's last goal, which came in the 80th minute.
The sophomore from Kampala, Uganda, won a ball from a Highlanders defender about 5 yards outside of the 18-yard box. Nsereko spun and lifted a perfect pass to Daniel Revivo, who had no trouble heading in his ninth goal of the season.