The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team will conclude its four-game ACC road trip with a visit to Durham to face the Duke Blue Devils.
Even though the Hokies faced two ranked teams last week and came away with two wins, they expect this weekend’s contest to be just as tough.
“Duke is a very good team. They still have three or four national team kids in their starting lineup,” said head coach Chugger Adair. “The results haven’t been falling for them so we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for both matches and can have the same results as last weekend.”
The other match Adair alluded to for the Hokies was a win at North Carolina State on Thursday night. Tech was able to get a big 4-1 win against the Wolfpack on the road in the Raleigh.
But the focus going into the weekend is on the Blue Devils, a team that is talented but has had a rough stretch recently.
“Duke is very good but I think we’re just going to attack them and play like we have been playing,” said junior defender Jodie Zelenky. “I don’t think we really need to change anything much because we’ve been playing so well the past couple of games.”
The defense has been terrific throughout the season and especially on the road. The unit has not allowed a goal since giving up two in a tight loss to top-ranked North Carolina on Sept. 12.
Specifically, for her performance, Zelenky was named to the Top Drawer Soccer Women’s Team of the Week for Sept. 24 after she played all 180 minutes in two shutout wins the previous week.
With their strong play of late, the Hokies are ready to pick up where they left off.
“I think we have a lot of confidence going into the next road games,” Zelenky said. “We were able to keep a shutout and get a lot of good opportunities in the past two road games and I think playing against two teams that are as good as Maryland and Boston College should give us a lot of confidence going into this weekend.”
After losing three starting defenders a year ago, there may have been some questions about whether the Hokies’ back line would be up to the task. But new starters Zelenky, senior Taylor Antolino, and junior Danielle King have meshed well with returning starter sophomore Jordan Coburn.
“We had such great defenders last year and we all looked up to them so much and I think they gave us a great example of how we should look to play,” Zelenky said. “I think we have really come together and we’ve had to bond to be able to play as well as we are playing.”
And having senior Dayle Colpitts in the net doesn’t hurt. The career leader in shutouts at Virginia Tech, Colpitts has been consistent this year for the Hokies.
“She’s been solid all year. She’s made saves when she needed to,” Adair said. “Against Maryland she saved a penalty about 10 minutes after the second half started and we were very shaky at the start of both halves I would say. And she came out and saved that penalty and gained confidence for our team and we were able to start playing better and kind of rolled from there.”
The offense hasn’t been explosive, but it has been consistent all season long, as the Hokies have scored in every match this season. Senior Jazmine Reeves leads the team in scoring with seven goals and is tied with freshman Murielle Tiernan for the team lead with four assists.
And according to Adair, that's no accident.
“Jazzy really committed to her training and to her fitness over the summer and it’s showing,” Adair said. “She’s been terrific.”
Duke comes into the match with a decent record, but has struggled against ACC competition. The Hokies will be the fourth ranked conference opponent in five matches that the Blue Devils have faced.
Sophomore Cassie Pecht, ACC Rookie of the Year last season, and senior Natasha Anasi lead a talented Blue Devils team that hasn’t had success recently, but certainly can’t be overlooked. They have played a tough schedule and were ranked in the national poll until this week.
The Hokies and the Blue Devils are set to square off at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon in Durham.