Almost three weeks ago the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team needed Florida State’s help to reach the ACC Tournament.
When it didn’t get it, the future of the season was in question.
Shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Monday night, the Hokies received news of a different tone: they earned a spot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, meaning their season would continue.
Plenty has happened since the Hokies last took the field on Oct. 24, but nothing can distract the team from its task ahead.
“Eighteen days is a long time to have off,” said head coach Chugger Adair. “We are trying to push them a little bit in training, and we’re replicating games as best we can. This group has done a great job of focusing — I think we’ll be alright.”
The task starts Sunday with a Georgetown team that is 15-3-3 and is ranked No. 13 in the nation. Daphne Corboz, Georgetown’s most productive offensive threat, ranks seventh in the nation with 17 goals on the year. The Hoyas are playing well of late — 9-2-2 in their last 13 games — and are a formidable opponent, but the Hokies are confident they have the right pieces in place to get the job done.
“Every single one of our seniors is a leader on the field, and we all look up to them for the leadership they provide,” said Ashley Meier.
With senior midfielder Kelly Conheeney missing almost the entire season with concussion symptoms, a significant portion of playing time needed to be redistributed. Meier was the answer and she has filled Conheeney’s large shoes better than anyone could have imagined.
Meir has scored seven times, which ties her for the team lead, and has recorded three assists while playing 1,300 minutes.
Her play hasn’t only garnered the attention of the locals. Meier was named to the All-ACC second team and the ACC all-freshman team.
Sunday marks the fifth consecutive season the Hokies have reached the tournament, but the first in which they have earned a home-bid. Aside from the obvious benefit of playing in front of the home crowd, Jasmine Reeves and the rest of the Hokies are thankful they don’t have to leave Blacksburg.
“Just the fact of traveling itself is tiring,” Reeves said. “Staying here will be helpful and we’re used to our field, we’re comfortable playing here.”
The Hokies are 6-3 at Thompson Field this season.
Tech’s year was one full of ups and downs. For the first time in school history, the Hokies went undefeated in non-conference play. Furthermore, they were ranked in the top-25 nationally every week except one. But, the team was also just 4-5-1 in ACC play and missed out on making the conference tournament by mere percentage points.
At this point, the team knows the past means nothing. Sunday starts a new season, one that means much more than the one that ended weeks ago. The Hokies have accomplished one of their team goals by earning a spot in the tournament, but they know they still have work left to do.
“Trying to make it a step further than we did last year would definitely be an amazing feat,” Reeves said. “That’s one of our goals and as a team we talked about it at the beginning of the season.”
When the Hokies take the field Sunday night for the first time in 18 days, they won’t be thinking about the recent events or missed opportunities; rather, they will be focused on the chances at hand and reaching the goal that lies before them.