Pregame: The Virginia Tech Hokies are in the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament for the first time since 2007 when they went to the College Cup. Tonight, the Hokies are facing East Tennessee State with the winner facing the 10th-seeded Charlotte 49ers who have a bye in the opening round. The Hokies and East Tennessee State did meet in a scrimmage before the season in Blacksburg that the Hokies won 3-1 but clearly, the intensity will be much higher in this win or go home situation.
The Hokies are clear favorites as the home team for tonight's competition along with having a 3-1 win over ETSU in a scrimmage in August but both teams know that all it can take will be one or two big moments that can cause an upset. If Virginia Tech does win, their rematch against Charlotte will be quite interesting given how both teams tied in their regular season matchup after two overtimes at Thompson Field.
Stay up with us right here for live updates during tonight's opening round game.
4': Virginia Tech got the first major attack of the evening with Humberto Moreno heading a cross just wide with ETSU getting an attack going but failing to get a shot. Even this early, Virginia Tech seems to be the better team this evening but don't doubt ETSU tonight as ETSU doesn't plan to sit back and try to get a few counter attacks at opportune moments.
10': East Tennessee State has looked quite solid so far with both teams getting a couple early attacks here though the Hokies' attacks have been in general been better so far in this game. ETSU has also brought a decent contingent of fans including a fairly loud supporter section for tonight's clash. Virginia Tech has more shots than ETSU but ETSU has the only shot in target so far this evening.
15': Virginia Tech is starting to get in a rhythm after a back and forth start with Humberto Moreno sending a volley wide in the 13th minute from about 15 yards out. Virginia Tech has found ways to get some balls in the box including having some quality crosses or sending balls in off long throws and corner kicks.
22': Virginia Tech is getting better and better opportunities with the Hokies forcing two saves from ETSU GK Jonny Sutherland including one from a shot from inside five yards out from the post by Marcelo Acuna and another right at the goalkeeper from over 20 yards out by Acuna. ETSU has gotten a couple more attacks but VT is getting more control of this game as it goes along in the first half.
28': Virginia Tech is on the board after a great corner to a wide open back post is finished off with a quality header from Nico Quashie to put Virginia Tech in the lead 1-0. The Hokies have been taking more and more control of this game with ETSU being forced to play more defensive and try to do something on a counter attack. Quashie's goal is the first of his career for the freshman who has gained more playing time lately.
35': Since the Hokies' opening goal, East Tennessee State has gotten a couple attacks and seems to be getting a little bit of their own rhythm going especially as they seem to be a little more aggressive with the way they are pressuring Hokie players around midfield and in the ETSU attacking half. However, VT still is in control of the play here at Thompson Field.
41': East Tennessee State had a couple of strong attacks, but the Hokies have gotten some control of this game back again with ETSU seeming to have some strong spurts but not able to keep up a high level of consistency throughout tonight's action. Virginia Tech is putting an emphasis on attacking through the air with plenty of crosses from the wings this evening.
Halftime Update: At halftime, Virginia Tech leads 1-0 thanks to Nico Quashie' first career on what was a perfect corner to the back post by Elias Tamburini. The Hokies have been the better team so far as they have been able to control most of the action other than for a couple spurts early and after Quashie's goal.
Virginia Tech has put an emphasis on trying get the ball in the box through the air whether that be crosses, corner kicks, or long throws from deep in the Virginia Tech attacking half. Virginia Tech has outshot East Tennessee State while also having a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal and a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Expect ETSU to take more risks as the game goes along and time becomes of the essence which should open up the field more for Virginia Tech to get some good counter-attacking opportunities. However, ETSU has already shown a comfort in pressing some and has actually had some of their best runs of action when they've pressed more.
One interesting thing of note, ETSU actually brought a bus of students to form their supporter section tonight, and they have definitely made their fair share of noise despite the Hokies controlling a heavy majority of play.
51': East Tennessee State has come out ready to attack in the second half and while they haven't gotten a clean shot on goal just yet, they are making some things happen here early on. ETSU knows that they'll have to take some risks in the second half being down a goal and the Hokies should be expecting this throughout the second half as long as ETSU is down.
57': The refs have let some calls go and let the players so far this evening with that continuing into the second half even if fans from both sides disagree. Virginia Tech has gotten their attack going some but ETSU also has gotten their first corner of the night and sent a header just wide of the far post in what was their most dangerous shot so far.
63': Unsurprisingly, the game has opened up some here in the second half with ETSU being much more aggressive and starting to get some more dangerous attacks. However, Virginia Tech's back line has continued to step when needed while the Hokies have gotten a couple chances themselves including a Marcelo Acuna free kick that only went a little over the bar.
69': It's been a physical game tonight at Thompson Field, but there have been no cards handed out so far with the refs seeming to let a lot of things go. ETSU has played much better in this half, but the Hokies have been solid at the back with a couple of attacks. ETSU's student supporter section is also making a whole lot of notice and seemed to draw the attention of VT defender Alessandro Mion.
77': Things are getting chippy as Nico Quashie received a yellow card for what was an unnecessary trip from the freshman forward while there was some shoving and pushing also involving Virginia Tech's Marcelo Acuna. ETSU has controlled the play much more in the second half of this game with Ben Lundgaard being force to make a couple saves. ETSU has also outshot Virginia Tech 8-4 so far in the second half as ETSU has been much more aggressive.
81': We're in the final ten minutes in Blacksburg and the Hokies were able to put a strong attacking possession together deep in their attacking half but ETSU has continued to be aggressive though they may be starting to run out of gas with the great effort they have put in to try and breakthrough the Virginia Tech wall at the back.
85': East Tennessee State is still trying to keep up their pressure but they're running out of energy as the Hokies are starting to get some quality attacks while ETSU hasn't been as threatening other than a dicey pass to VT GK Ben Lundgaard that was nearly intercepted. Virginia Tech also is now being outshot only 8-7 after a few shots within the past 10 minutes for the Hokies.
Recap: East Tennessee State came ready to pull off an upset, but Virginia Tech was able to hold on 1-0 after getting a first half goal from Nico Quashie. Virginia Tech controlled the first half with the Hokies outshooting East Tennessee State 8-2 and having 6 corner kicks to ETSU's 0. ETSU did have some moments, but the Hokies seemed to have control.
However, ETSU came out much more aggressive in the second and to an extent, the Hokies seemed content to play more conservative and make sure they held on to their 1-0 lead. ETSU did have a much higher quantity of attacks, but the Hokies were barely outshot in the second half with VT outshooting ETSU 9-8 thanks to some strong, late attacks though the Hokies did have some close calls including a dicey back pass that Ben Lundgaard cleared out of bounds just in time.
There were plenty of solid performances on thee vening but if one player were to warrant our player of the game honors, it would be Marcelo Acuna who didn't score but was the most consistent goal-scoring threat with Acuna having 5 shots including 3 on goal. Nico Quashie looked solid also with the only goal on the evening while also proving to be a talented young freshman though he did pick up an unnecessary yellow card while GK Ben Lundgaard did what was needed, making 3 saves tonight.
Virginia Tech's win sends them to the second round where they will go on the road to face 10th-seeded Charlotte. The Hokies and Charlotte faced off in Blacksburg during the regular season with the game ending in a 0-0 tie after two overtimes.