Virginia Tech Beats Air Force to Advance to Round of 32 in NCAA Tournament
After sneaking their way into the NCAA tournament, Virginia Tech knew they had a tough task on their hands. The Air Force Falcons posses one of college soccer’s best defenses, allowing only 0.79 goals per game, much thanks to GK John Wendt (40 saves) and F Austin Dewing (21 points).
The Falcons managed to go undefeated in conference play, while the Hokies had their fair share of struggles in the alpha conference of soccer, known as the ACC. The Hokies did manage to beat No.1 Notre Dame earlier this season, but finished 3-5 in the ACC. How would this .500 team fare against a tough defensive foe, like the Falcons?
The answer to that question: very well. The Hokies and Falcons were neck-and-neck in the first half, but star F Marcelo Acuna and the Hokies proved to be too much for Air Force in the second half. Lead by a goal from Collin Verfurth and another from Acuna, Virginia Tech defeated Air Force 2-0.
In the first half, the game went as expected; the excellent defense of Air Force kept Virginia Tech at bay, as Wendt only had to face three shots. Lundgaard was none too busy either, only facing two. VT had 9 shots, three from Elias Tamburini, while Air Force had 7. However, once the next 45 began, it was a different story for John Wendt and the boys of Colorado.
With 36 minutes remaining in the 2nd, a rare two-on-one opportunity occurred for the Hokies. Indeed, the slam-dunk was not missed; Acuna and Collin Verfurth toyed with the Falcon defenders, eventually ending with Verfurth putting the ball in the back of the net. It was Verfurth's 4th goal on the season, as well as Acuna’s 3rd assist. Three minutes later, things did not get better for the Falcons.
Acuna scored his twelfth goal on the season, and VT lead 2-0 in the blink of an eye. From that point on, it was Acuna Matata for the Hokies; there was nothing to worry about. Wendt did everything he could do, saving six out of the eight shots he faced in the second half.
However, Virginia Tech star GK Ben Lundgaard showed everyone why he was First Team All-ACC, making jaw-dropping save after jaw-dropping save. He finished with 7 on the night as VT was able to preserve the shutout in what was a very impressive performance.
Virginia Tech’s next opponent will be very tough, as the Hokies will pack their bags to East Lansing to take on the 7th-seeded Michigan State Spartans. That game will take place this Sunday, giving the Hokies a quick turnaround as they head into Big 10 country.
Stay up with The Tech Lunch Pail for the latest on Virginia Tech. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. Subscribe to our email updates.