Coming off a big 2–1 win against Notre Dame, No. 25 Virginia Tech men’s soccer faced No. 6 Virginia Friday night in the Commonwealth Clash at Thompson Field. UVA is 12-1-1 on the season and was ranked No. 1 in the country for most of the season until losing its first game of the year to Pittsburgh on Oct. 18. This game was the Hokies’ biggest test of the season and it resulted in a frustrating 2–0 loss.
Virginia Tech put a lot of offensive pressure on the Cavaliers early, which resulted in three corner kicks.
“Looking at the first half, we were all over them but we just couldn’t finish our chances,” said head coach Mike Brizendine.
Virginia’s defense responded well to the pressure, as they had to clear the ball out time and time again.
The offense of Virginia had a couple chances to score mid-way through the first half. One opportunity in particular was close, but Daryl Dike was called offsides for UVA. Other than the offsides play, Virginia Tech’s defense played well in the first half, including senior defender Nikal Clarke-Smith who cleared a lot of offensive chances for the Cavaliers.
The scoring opened in the 33rd minute when UVA’s Nathaniel Crofts scored a beautiful bending shot from the left flank around junior goalkeeper Mathijs Swaneveld. Virginia Tech tried to respond, but the Cavaliers’ defense was the story of the first half. UVA consistently limited any quality chances whether off corner kicks, crosses or dribbling by defenders.
In the beginning of the second half, Virginia came out with a couple of free kicks. Swaneveld responded well to the pressure by the Cavaliers, but the pressure became too much when Dike scored in the 55th minute for Virginia. The second half goal extended UVA’s lead to 2–0.
Virginia possessed the ball consistently in the following minutes after separating themselves from the Hokies. Junior forward Kristo Strickler had one chance that went wide of the goal for Virginia Tech. The shot brought a response from the rest of the team and it resulted in the best chance of the game for the Hokies.
“I was proud of the way we played in a lot of segments of the game,” Brizendine said.
Virginia Tech senior James Kasak sent in a great cross from the right wing late in the game. It bounced around the 6-yard box, but could not find the foot of any Hokie player. Freshman Daniel Pereira also got a great opportunity for Virginia Tech, but Virginia goalkeeper Colin Shutler made a good save on the shot from the top of the 18-yard box.
Virginia Tech kept up the pressure, but still could not find the back of the net. Strickler and junior Jacob Labovitz had chances throughout the last 15 minutes, they were just unable to control the ball and get a good shot off.
“It’s just another ACC game where we were missing that piece” Brizendine said.
Virginia’s defense stood strong throughout the entire game. Shutler made great plays in the last 10 minutes, punching corner kicks and crosses away from danger. As a result, No. 6 Virginia came away with the 2–0 victory.
Virginia Tech heads into the last week of the regular season with a record of 7-4-2. The Hokies go to Princeton Tuesday to face the Tigers at Roberts Stadium.