Two late game goals powered the men’s soccer team past the 17th-ranked Syracuse Orange on Friday night in front of a raucous home crowd.
The match was Syracuse’s first ACC game since the school joined the conference earlier this year. The Hokies welcomed them with a loss.
“That’s college soccer,” said head coach Mike Brizendine. “There are crazy results all over the place.”
The home crowd was electric and stood behind the Hokies from the start.
“It was unreal,” said sophomore forward Kai Marshall. “I’ve never experienced that before and it was amazing.”
Out of the 24 combined shots in the game, 15 came in the first half alone and both teams played at a fast pace for the entire half.
While the play was speedy, it was also physical. There were three yellow cards in the first half, two on Syracuse and one on Tech.
One card was particularly costly for the Hokies when a foul in the 17th minute resulted in an opposing penalty kick.
Syracuse forward Nick Perea buried the penalty kick, which proved to be the only goal of the game for the Orange.
At the start of the second half it was clear both teams were starting to slow down.
The pace of play had decreased from the first half and scoring opportunities for both teams were few and far between.
“We settled down a lot,” Marshall said. “We were definitely still looking for the perfect time to go, we didn’t want to give the ball away and rush.”
As the second half was nearing the end, the game seemed as though it would end with Syracuse’s lone goal.
That all changed in the 85th minute when Syracuse misplayed a ball deep in their half, which led to a fast break goal for senior midfielder Robert Alberti.
“Once I saw it hit off the post I wasn’t sure if it was going to go in. Once it did everything happened so fast,” said Alberti. “They took me to the ground. Just a great feeling.”
With that goal, the crowd got back into the game and Tech seemed to have all the momentum. And in the 98th minute, Tech capitalized on that momentum.
Marshall and midfielder Brandon Eaton were able to get behind the Syracuse defense, and Marshall was able to score his second goal of the season.
“Brandon played a great ball into to me and I just put my head down and banged it in, didn’t even think about it,” said Marshall.
The Hokies hope to continue the momentum on Friday, Sept. 13 when they play Duke on the road in Durham. The game is slated to begin at 7 p.m.