The Hokies are back to winning form after taking a massive 3-1 over the Orange in the first round of the ACC tournament. The attack was firing on all cylinders and the defense pushed aggressively to quell the Orange forces, but this Sunday the Hokies will need another stunning performance to top North Carolina.
Back to Winning Against Syracuse
With their offense battered and their defense crushed, Coach Brizendine knew the Hokies were going to have to play aggressive to come out on top. And they did. Forwards Kristo Strickler and Nico Quashie pushed deep into the defense all night, and the midfield stayed ready to push up and attack, or fall back and defend.
David Sanz opened the scoring with a 17’ stunner from the top of the box. Marking his third goal of the season, Sanz has become a staple of the attacking midfield, unafraid to challenge the defense. The Hokies didn’t strike again until the second half, but it was Kristo Strickler who doubled the scoreline in the 56’. Strickler challenged a high pass to ‘Cuse Keeper Hendrik Hilpert to find the open header into the goal. That makes goal number nine for the All-ACC forward, and a 2-0 score line for the Hokies.
In the final 20′, Syracuse finally found a major shooting surge. For those efforts, freshman forward Ryan Raposo was awarded an energizing 84’ goal. Ultimately, Syracuse fell short of the equalizer as Nico Quashie found the dagger (87′) for Virginia Tech. Quashie took advantage of the full press from the Syracuse back line to find an open field and a one-on-one with the Orange keeper. The match ended 3-1 in favor of the Hokies at Thompson Field.
Tonight's Play of the Game is @NicooSuavee's strike to put it to bed in the final minutes
A Working Defense
Virginia Tech’s defense came up big against Syracuse, even without their captain Jon Ingason. Defenders Will Mejia and Nikal Clarke-Smith always play the full 90′, and on Wednesday they absolutely controlled the backfield. The pair locked the Orange down to just two shots in the first half. Syracuse managed to find 21 more shots in the second half, but Mathijs Swaneveld was there to stop the seven that fell on-target. He only has four clean-sheets this season, but with 80 saves so far Swaneveld leads the ACC by 31 saves. The Syracuse keeper is second with 49.
Can VT outmatch #2 UNC?
An upset is possible. Mejia and Clarke-Smith have proven they can stop the attack. On Sunday, Ingason will rejoin them in the back line. With Swaneveld in the goal once more, the midfield will be allowed to focus back on the attack. Virginia Tech found three goals against Syracuse, but they only took 11 shots with four on goal. If this offense can find the numbers to overwhelm the UNC defense, they’ll find far more shots and shots on goal. If this line-up is going to make a semi-finals run, this is how they’ll have to do it. They fell short to Duke, they cannot do it again against UNC.
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