Last night at Thompson Field, the Virginia Tech men’s soccer team defeated Wright State by a score of 1-0. It was Tech’s first win in more than a month, and it marked goalkeeper Kyle Renfro’s third shutout of the season.
Coach Mike Brizendine was pleased to see his team get back to winning.
“I’m happy with the shutout,” he said. “I’m very happy, considering we had a number of starters out tonight. I’m pleased with the effort”
The game was wide open from the start, with lots of counter attacks from both teams. The Hokies kept the game at a fast pace, as they took all their free and goal kicks with no delay.
The Hokies’ quick moves produced multiple shots in the first half from Mikey Minutillo and Taylor Lemmon, however neither was able to find the net. Minutillo took a hard, low shot from the left side, but it was just wide.
Wright State had its share of first half chances as well. Will McAteer and Seth Petrey both had early shots, but Renfro handled them with ease.
Wright State was often forced to take shots from range, thanks to Tech’s stinginess in the middle.
Tech’s defense played especially well in its own zone, clearing all rebounds out of the box quickly.
Whenever they regained possession, the ball was sent out efficiently, limiting Wright State to very few second chance shots.
The best scoring chance in the first half came from Wright State forward Drake Stewart.
With five minutes left in the half, Stewart found himself with only Renfro standing between him and the net. Renfro came out to attack the ball, and Stewart chipped the ball over him.
It appeared to be a sure goal, until Tech defender David Fiorello came charging from behind the play and cleared the ball out right at the goal line.
“We got caught out of position, and Renfro did a good job closing the guy down,” Fiorello said. “Fortunately, I was in the right place at the right time.”
Fiorello’s effort kept the game level at zero at halftime.
And as halftime came along, rain and wind picked up. However, the Hokies weren’t affected by the conditions at all — in fact, they thrived.
Renfro said he liked the challenging conditions.
“It doesn’t bother me at all,” he said. “Different goalies are different about it, but it doesn’t affect me.”
Hardly one minute passed before Tech took the lead for good.
Midfielder Jed Prater drove the ball down the right side and delivered a solid cross into Wright State’s box. Among all the traffic, Raiders defender Emeka Ononye tried to head the ball out, but instead it went past goalkeeper Craig Feehan for an own goal.
It wasn’t the first time the Hokies forced their opponent into an own goal, as they benefitted from a second half own goal last week against Campbell.
The second half was played at a slower tempo and pace than the first. Each team held possession longer and played more cautiously, perhaps because of the weather.
As the game went on, Wright State forward Bryce Rockwell-Ashton put his dribbling skills on display and demanded much attention in Tech’s defensive
He was able to set up multiple shots for himself and his teammates, but nothing was too much for Renfro to handle.
The Hokies had a real gut check late in the game when defender Kevin Reitzel picked up two yellow cards within three minutes. Reitzel was sent off, and the Hokies had to play with 10 men for the final six minutes.
However, Wright State failed to capitalize on their man advantage, and the game ended in Tech’s favor by a score of 1-0.
Renfro, who leads the ACC with 74 saves, is optimistic about tomorrow’s matchup against rival University of Virginia.
“The shutout feels great and gives us great momentum going into U.Va.,” he said. “Hopefully we can carry this out the rest of the season.”