The #23 Virginia Tech Hokies men’s soccer team hosted their home ACC opener tonight after picking up their first loss last week in their ACC opener on the road at the #1 team in the nation, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. For their ACC opener, the Hokies faced a much weaker opponent in the N.C. State Wolfpack ho entered this matchup with a 1-4 record compared to the Hokies at 5-1.
After getting a tight 1-0 victory against Longwood, the #23 Virginia Tech Hokies comfortably took care of business against N.C. State with a 3-0 victory. The Hokies were outshout by the Wolfpack 14-11 and had 2 less corner kicks (4-2) but Virginia Tech was definitely the better team in this matchup, getting more quality offensive opportunities throughout the evening. Virginia Tech’s physical style also showed with the Hokies having 15 fouls compared to 11 for N.C. State.
Virginia Tech came out hot to start the game and were absolutely dominant in the first 20 minutes, leading to two early goals. The first came off of a terrific low cross from wingback Juan Pablo Saavedra that went across the middle right to near the back post for forward Marcelo Acuna who put it away for his fifth goal of the season.
Four minutes later, the Hokies got on the board again after another great assist Saavedra set up forward Som Essome for an easy finish. While the Wolfpack did end up outshooting the Hokies 8-4, Virginia Tech as definitely the better team as N.C. State only got a couple of actually decent opportunities in the first half.
Both teams came out aggressive in the first and were able to get some quality opportunities though the Hokies were able to consistently get more opportunities. The Hokies took advantage of a defensive miscue in the 67th minute with midfielder Ryan Marcano taking advantage of a golden opportunity to put the Hokies up 3-0 against the Wolfpack.
Both teams continued to get plenty of opportunities during the second half with both teams having some dangerous headers go just wide. Virginia Tech had some chances to get a late fourth goal, but N.C. State was able to prevent the Hokies from getting anymore. However, 3 goals was plenty in what was a strong performance from a Virginia Tech that should rise back up from #23 in next week’s top 25.
Juan Pablo Saavedra was definitely one of the stars of the night as the senior wingback was quite effective in the first half with multiple dangerous crosses from the wing including assists on both of the Hokies’ first half goals.
Marcelo Acuna and Som Essome were both dangerous up top throughout the night with Acuna being the most effective forward getting multiple shots and getting a great position at the back post to put Saavedra’s first assist in the back of the net. The duo of Acuna and Essome definitely looks like one of the best in the ACC with Acuna already emerging as one of the ACC’s top strikers.
Virginia Tech’s backline was occasionally tested but the central duo of Will Mejia and Alessandro Mion was solid throughout the evening. Ben Lundgaard had another strong performance with 2 saves and his fifth clean sheet in only seven games this season. The midfield was also solid for the Hokies led by Ryan Marcano getting 3 shots and putting one in the back of the net.
Looking ahead, the Hokies travel to Delaware next week before returning home next Friday night for a huge ACC showdown against the sixth-ranked Clemson Tigers.