The Hokies head into the first round of the ACC tournament facing off against the Orange. Ending their season strong, the Hokies just missed the first round bye after a tough loss to Duke. At #6 in the ACC and 9th in the RPI, the Hokies are certainly looking to start their tournament with a big win against Syracuse.
The pair faced off just over a month ago with the Hokies edging out the win. A goal from Nico Quashie in 108’ ended the double overtime match with a thrilling 1-0 score line. The win marked their first conference win of the season, but tonight both teams are looking to keep their seasons alive.
ICYM last night…
Nico's third goal of the year lifts us to a double OT victory over Syracuse Friday night
HURDLES FOR VT
Against Duke, the Hokies struggled to stay competitive in what was expected to be an evenly matched game. The match was incredibly one-sided, and Virginia Tech didn’t just struggle to compete but were completely shut down by the Blue Devils. For a team that averaged 13 shots per game and eight shots on goal in their previous four matchups, Duke held the Hokies to eight shots, the first of which coming after 70’ of play, and ZERO shots on goal. By crowding attackers early and not letting the maroon midfield push up, Duke prevented Virginia Tech from finding any rhythm. The Hokie offense needs its numbers. They need to crowd the box, they need the midfield to push up fast and now Syracuse knows exactly how to counter.
Mathijs Swaneveld has 78 saves, almost 30 more than the next keeper in the ACC. He is what keeps this team alive defensively, but he cannot do it alone. Swaneveld only has four clean sheets on the season, and that’s because if a team puts pressure on the back line, it will crumble. Tonight, Tech will have the added challenge of playing without their captain and defensive anchor, Jon Ingason. Ingason went down to a red card late in the first half against Duke on Friday, and so this defensive asset and offensive sharpshooter will be absent from the contest against Syracuse. A weak defense made weaker.
HOW THE HOKIES CAN WIN
A lot of the challenges the Hokies faced on Friday, they will likely face against the Orange. The biggest difference is the Hokies know they can win, and this team is incredibly reliant on energy and momentum. Knowing that they have already beaten Syracuse will certainly give them an extra boost coming in.
Duke was a one-sided contest, but despite having 10 men the Hokies did start to fight back late in the second half. All eight of their shots came in the final 20 minutes. Virginia Tech is coming into this matchup having already adjusted to not having Ingason leading the back line, and Coach Brizendine has an idea of how to counter the defensive style Syracuse will look to mimic. If Virginia Tech can keep the pressure off of their back line and keep making overwhelming pushes from the midfield and the attack, the Hokies should find a similar result to the last time these two teams faced off.
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