The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team will be hosting Duke University at Thompson Field Saturday at 7 p.m.
The Hokies enter their final home game of the 2012 season with a 6-7-3 record and a 0-5-1 record in conference, while the Blue Devils find themselves entering Saturday with a 6-7-1 record and a 2-4-1 record in conference.
This ACC game is crucial for both teams, as the season is winding down and the conference tournament is looming.
“We’re in the same position,” said Kyle Renfro, goalkeeper. “We both really need some ACC points so we can get out of that play-in game.”
In the ACC conference tournament, the bottom two teams are placed in a play-in game with the winner then taking on the No. 1 seed the following day.
At this point in the season, the No. 1 seed will most likely be the Maryland Terrapins, who are widely considered as the best team in the country.
The Hokies would find themselves in that play-in game should the tournament start today and will most likely need to win both of their final two conferences games to get out of it.
Luckily for the Hokies, their last two conference games are very winnable.
This Saturday’s game against Duke will be the Hokies best opportunity out of the two to gain their first conference win, as Duke is coming off a four-game home stand where it won two and lost two.
The Hokies, meanwhile, are coming off a stretch of tough losses to the North Carolina State Wolfpack and the Virginia Cavaliers — where the Hokies blew a two-goal lead to lose in overtime.
The Hokies have also gone into overtime in three of their last five games, making fatigue a serious factor, especially when taking into account the unusual number of injuries the Hokies have suffered through this season.
“I know the field players get a little bit tired, but the key thing is to stay mentally sharp and focused throughout the whole game,” Renfro said.
Amongst all the adversity the Hokies have faced this season, they still have managed to accumulate the most wins they have had since 2007. A key to the Hokies’ success has been winning at home, where they have picked up four of their six wins.
Tech’s other two wins have come on neutral sites, meaning the Hokies have yet to win a game on the road this season.
A major reason for the Hokies road struggles has been due to a lack of offensive performance. They have managed to score just two goals on the road this season, both of which came in the same game.
Those offensive woes have been the story of the season, and in four of their last five games, Tech has scored one goal or less.
Hokies coach Mike Brizendine knows the game on Saturday will be a big challenge for his young team, but believes Duke is having the same problem scoring.
“I think they’ve had some similar issues as us in regard to scoring,” Brizendine said. “I think it’s going to be a hard fought match.”
In addition to this game being a very important ACC contest for both teams, the Hokies will be honoring their lone senior, David Fiorello, for his last home game as a Hokie.
Fiorello has been a team captain for the last three seasons and has been a key contributor during his time at Tech.
“I’ll miss him,” Brizendine said. “Not just the player part, but what he brings to the table as a person. You just can’t have enough of those guys.”
Fiorello and his teammates will be doing everything they can to find a way to get one last victory in front of the home crowd, it what is sure to be an emotional night.
“It’s going to be bittersweet but I think I am ready to move on to the next stage in life,” Fiorello said.