The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team is a few years from being competitive in the Atlantic Coast Conference again.
This year’s team finished the season with a 7-10-3 overall record and a dismal 0-7-1 record in conference, marking the fifth straight season the Hokies have finished with a losing record.
Although the team increased its win total from the previous year, the Hokies still have just three conference wins in the past three seasons.
A major reason for the Hokies poor record against conference opponents is their inability to score goals.
The team was held scoreless in eight games this season, with six of them being conference games. Even with the ban on international recruiting coming to an end this spring, I have trouble seeing the Hokie's scoring struggles disappearing overnight.
Tech's head coach Mike Brizendine is confident that with the international recruiting class the Hokies are bringing in for next season, the team’s scoring woes will be history, but it really depends on how well these players adapt to playing in the United States. Brizendine said himself that some players have a difficult time adjusting to life on a large university campus.
It would be wrong if I ignored the reasons for the Hokies to be optimistic about next season. For one, the team will return all but one player from this year’s team, including an astounding 13 freshmen.
Although having a young team is considered a good thing, there are also times when it can be a real problem. An example from this season would be the Hokies poor record on the road.
The Hokies were winless in their seven true road games this season, which is no doubt a result of the team’s inexperience in road games.
The Hokies are expected to bring in international players, who will receive immediate playing time next season. I believe that with the addition of more new faces to an already young Hokie team will result in more road struggles for the Hokies.
But my biggest reason for why the Hokies will not make an immediate turnaround next season is because of the conference they play in. The ACC is arguably the best conference in college soccer. Teams like Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest are consistently ranked in the top 25, and next year will be no different. This current Hokie team needs a lot of improvement if it is going to be able to matchup against the sport’s top teams.
As evidenced in the Boston College comeback this season and the ACC tournament, this team has thrived playing the underdog role. Despite this, I believe this team is still a few seasons away from competing in the conference.