Virginia Tech men’s soccer has struggled a lot over the past several years with the Hokies pulling off a few upsets but not being able to sustain the momentum and get in the top 25. However, that has all changed in 2016 as the Hokies are in the midst of a men’s soccer resurgence, bringing excitement to Thompson Field for more than just the strong women’s soccer program.
For the first time since early in the 2008 season, the Virginia Tech Hokies returned to the top 25 of the rankings debuting at #15 before dropping to #23 this week after a 4-1 loss in their ACC opener at #1 Notre Dame. The Hokies are home tonight for their ACC home opener likely knowing that this has the potential to be the program’s best season since 2007.
Virginia Tech’s jump into the top 25 was not expected by man but the Hokies have earned with two big road wins against Georgetown and Ohio State leading the way to a 5-1 start ahead of their home ACC opener at Thompson Field.
There had been a couple who mentioned that head coach Mike Brizendine could be on a little bit of a hot seat with the Hokies not making a single appearance before this season since he had taken over in 2009. Now, Brizendine seems to have his best team since taking over a Hokies’ program that had made a deep NCAA Tournament run two years before his tenure began in 2007.
A big reason for the 2016 resurgence has been a player Brizendine brought in via transfer, forward Marcelo Acuna.
Acuna transferred to the Hokies from Houston Baptist and has immediately been a difference maker up top leading the Hokies with four goals, 28 shots, and 11 shots on goal. Acuna has been the feature forward for the Hokies with no other HOkie having no more than 1 goal so far this season. Acuna was quite good last season at Houston Baptist leading them with 10 goals but the Costa Rican has only stepped his game up another level this year.
Acuna hasn’t been the only star on this Virginia Tech men’s soccer team.
Junior goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard has been quite impressive over the first 6 games as he has only allowed 5 goals, 4 of which came against #1 Notre Dame, and has 4 clean sheets with 18 saves. The veteran goalkeeper and captain has benefited some from having veterans in front of him on the defensive backline but there is no doubt that the leadership and strong play of Lundgaard is a big reason why the Hokies are off to their tremendous start.
Another big reason for Virginia Tech’s success has to be the multitude of veterans that are starting on this team. Of the 10 players who have made at least 10 starts, only 2 (Will Mejia, Rory Slevin) are not either juniors or seniors. Having that type of veteran, experienced roster is once again being proven to be a recipe for success for the Hokies.
Of course, there are some young players who have stepped up so far and made an impact including redshirt freshman defender Will Mejia and sophomore midfielder Rory Slevin starting in all 6 games so far with Mejia having a goal and Slevin having 2 assists. Meanwhile, true freshmen Brendan Moyers and James Kazak have both received significant playing time and a start with both players having an assist.
Virginia Tech men’s soccer is at its best since 2008 led by a coach that entered the season on the hot seat, a prolific transfer forward, a talented goalkeeper, and a team loaded with plenty of veterans plus a few talented youngsters.