Virginia Tech is now in the midst of its longest undefeated stretch of the season since their 3-0 start. After trading wins and losses back and forth for most of the mid-season, the Hokies found three incredible wins against Pittsburgh, William & Mary, and Notre Dame. After a tie against Davidson, Duke is a must-win for Virginia Tech.
This Hokie lineup is incredibly tenacious, as evidenced by their match against Pitt and Notre Dame where they went down early. That being said, this team relies on momentum. Most of their goals come in braces. Against Pitt, the final two goals were scored just five minutes apart. Against William & Mary, the first pair of goals came five minutes apart, and the last were four minutes apart. Against Notre Dame, the first two goals weer five minutes apart and the last two were six minutes apart. In their tie against Davidson and in their match against Pitt, the Hokies responded with goals just a minute after their opposition scored.
So why does that matter? Virginia Tech feeds off of the energy of the game. If they cannot respond to a goal immediately, then it becomes much harder for this team find a win. That’s going to be true for every team, but the Hokies are much more reliant on those quick turnarounds than their counterparts. Likewise, if they cannot capitalize on their own goal, then it becomes much easier for teams to bridge that gap.
- Kristo Strickler is their biggest weapon. On the season, he has 8 goals and 4 assists. If Strickler can get inside the box and steal looks, then he has a very good chance to score.
59' ANOTHER GOAL FOR TECH !
That's three in the first 18 minutes of the half as we've taken the lead through @KristoStrickler's second of the night pic.twitter.com/AWsEDUzS7S
— Virginia Tech Men’s Soccer (@HokiesMSoccer) October 20, 2018
- James Kasak needs the ball. He only has three goals this season, but Kasak has racked up eight huge assists. With Kasak landing crosses and finding passes, this offense can tear through a defense and find the open shots they need to get ahead.
- Jon Ingason is a sniper. The captain of this lineup is crucial piece of their defense, but he’s managed to pick up four goals from the backline, and he’s done this through set pieces. Ingason has one goal from a free kick, and he’s 3/3 in penalty kicks.
How Tech will beat Duke
- Forcing the ball in the box. This means attackers need to make runs to the box, but midfielders also need to push up aggressively to the box and force that ball in. In their wins, goals are coming from overwhelming the box and finding those looks or forcing the fouls.
- Finding that momentum. As previously stated, Virginia Tech feeds off the energy whether it’s their own or, in this case, Duke’s. If the Hokies truly want an advantage, finding those quick braces like they have in their last four matches will be crucial. One goal cannot be enough for this team against the Blue Devils. On the flip side, if Duke opens up the scoring for the match, then Virginia must react quickly or they’ll be left in the dust.
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