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Thursday, October 3, 2013
BLACKSBURG — Virginia Tech women’s soccer coach Chugger Adair felt good about his club when school ended last spring. But coming off the summer, Adair admitted he wasn’t exactly sure what kind of team would show up this fall.
“You don’t really know, I’ll be honest with you,” Adair said this week. “Being a fall sport, it can be harder. You know less. You know where you were the year before. Then the kids go away for the summer.”
Turns out, Adair had nothing to worry about.
His Hokies are off to a 9-1-2 start to the season, including a 4-1-1 mark in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The lone loss was a 2-1 setback against then-top-ranked North Carolina.
Tech has outscored opponents 31-9 through 12 matches and is ranked No. 12 in the nation heading into tonight’s home match against Clemson.
Adair said it was during the loss to UNC that his team really confirmed it had the ability to have a great season.
“I think going down 2-0 and being able to fight back to 2-1, keeping ourselves in the game,” Adair said. “I think it was good for us to see what we have, how the kids responded.”
One key factor behind Tech’s early success has been how quickly its rebuilt back line has come together. The unit is working in three new starters. Sophomore Jordan Coburn is back from last year and is joined by senior Taylor Antolino, junior Danielle King and junior Jodie Zelenky, who have stepped into larger roles after playing as reserves last season.
Of course, playing in front of keeper Dayle Colpitts makes things a bit easier on a defense. The senior has a goals against average of 0.66 and a .795 save percentage. She’s allowed just eight goals in 1,092 minutes.
Fast starts aren’t new for the Hokies. They won their first nine matches last year and took eight of their first nine the season before that. But none of those games came against ranked opponents.
This year’s surge included the UNC loss and an impressive 2-0 win at then-No. 21 Maryland on Sept. 19.
The Hokies just wrapped up a 3-0-1 ACC road trip.
Hokies’ men unbeaten in ACC play
It wasn’t hard for Virginia Tech men’s soccer coach Michael Brizendine to get his players focused for the opening of their year. With games against three ranked opponents in the first five weeks, the Hokies knew they’d be tested early.
“The guys knew about the schedule and how tough it was going to be,” Brizendine said Wednesday. “They knew what was ahead of them.”
Virginia Tech (1-0-3 ACC) went undefeated against those ranked foes, beating then-No. 17 Syracuse 2-1 in overtime before tying No. 1 North Carolina and No. 16 Clemson. The team also tied Duke 1-1.
“We brought in some good players,” Brizendine, a James Madison alum in his fifth year as Tech’s coach. “When you have the right players, it helps a lot. They’ve worked hard and they’ve bought into what we’re doing.”
But while the Hokies have been holding their own against the top-flight competition in the ACC, they’ve struggled with lesser foes. They lost 2-1 to Fordham and 2-0 to Navy.
“Friday night games, everybody’s ready on both sides of the ball,” Brizendine said of league play. “It’s the midweeks that have been tough on everybody. Every time an ACC team laces it up against a team that’s not from the ACC, we get their best. That’s just the way it is when you play in the best league in the country.”
So, with the majority of its ACC slate ahead, can Tech continue its strong start and reach the ACC and possibly NCAA tournaments?
To do so, Brizendine said the team needs to stay healthy and start capitalizing on its scoring chances.
“We’ve been stagnant in that here of late,” Brizendine said. “We need to get back to those.”
Tech hasn’t scored a goal in its last three matches, a loss to Navy and a pair of ACC ties against UNC and Clemson. But Brizendine said the chances have been there.
“It’s finishing,” he said. “We’ve had good opportunities. We’ve gotten ourselves in good position. I’m encouraged by that. It’s just having some composure and finishing.”
Things don’t get easier in October for Tech. The Hokies play at No. 20 Wake Forest on Friday and host No. 2 Notre Dame the following Friday.
— Michael Barber, Richmond Times-Dispatch
Roanoke 4, Shenandoah 0
WINCHESTER — Robbie Lentine scored in the 63rd minute and teammate Tyler Carbaugh scored two minutes later to lead the Maroons (8-1, 4-1) past the Hornets (0-10, 0-5).
Mark Dinkel and Nicholas Staufenberger also scored for Roanoke. Both keepers for the Maroons recorded no saves in the shutout.
Ferrum 5, Southern Virginia 1
FERRUM — Asa Fox scored twice as the Panters (8-4) rolled the winless Knights (0-9-1).
Jimmy Carleton, Aarron Gustine and Kyle Simpkins each scored for Ferrum.
Cort Cox scored the lone goal for Southern Virginia.
Ferrum recorded 39 shots in the game while Southern Virginia finished with three. The score was 1-1 at the half.
Longwood 3, VMI 0
LEXINGTON — Three separate players scored as the Lancers (4-5-2, 3-0-0) overcame the Keydets (2-8, 0-3).
Kelsey Pardue, Gina D’Orazio, and Kelsey McDonald each netted a goal for Longwood and keeper Shelby Hall had four saves.
Liz Nickerson recorded four saves for VMI.
Radford 2, Campbell 0
BUIES CREEK, NC. — Sahar Aflaki scored twice to lead the Highlanders (7-1-1) past the Camels (4-6-0).
Radford keeper Che’ Brown recorded four saves to earn the shut out.
Radford outshot Campbell 20 to 9.
Roanoke 5, Sweet Briar 0
Natalie Torres scored 12 seconds into the game and scored again in the 45th minute as the Maroons (3-6-1, 1-3) rolled the Vixen (2-4-1, 0-4-0).
Teammate Lauren O’Brien finished with one goal and two assists. Abbe Guarino and Caitlyn Ashley each scored once.
Sweet Briar was led by keeper Katie Tillson who finished with 12 saves.
The Vixen recorded no shots on goal in the shutout.
Ferrum 2, William Peace 0
FERRUM — Meghin Martin and Kimberlee Holness each scored for the Panthers (5-4-1) as they rolled the Pacers (1-7-2).
Keeper Caitlyn Deaton needed only two saves to record the shutout. Morgan Funck and Annabelle Pivarnik each assisted one goal.
Eastern Mennonite 3, Roanoke 0
HARRISONBURG — Three separate Royals scored as they humbled the Maroons (2-6, 1-1).
Mariah Martin, Mandy Stowers, and Melissa Cox all scored for Eastern Mennonite (2-8, 2-0).
Roanoke goalie Candice Fisher recorded six saves.
— The Roanoke Times
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