Photo Credit: Dave Knachel/Virginia Tech Athletics
Virginia Tech men's and women's soccer teams have been making lots of noise over the past few weeks as both teams are off to undefeated starts. Unsurprisingly, that has led to some weekly honors for star players and both teams rising in the polls. Here's a look at the latest news and notes ahead of a big weekend especially for the men's soccer team.
Nicole Kozlova Named ACC Offensive Player of the Week
Redshirt freshman Nicole Kozlova was named ACC Offensive Player of the Week after having 3 goals last week with the first coming against Alabama and the other 2 coming against Yale. Her three goals have also made her the Hokies' leading goal scorer with 4 along with her 8 shots on goal being tied for the team lead with Emmalee McCarter.
Kozlova has been a very pleasant surprise for the Hokies after redshirting during last season's return to prominent NCAA Tournament success. The emergence of Kozlova as a major goal-scoring threat has only made the Hokies a more dangerous attacking team with multiple high-quality options they can rely on, helping make the Hokies a top 20 team especially with one of the best golakeepers in the country running the defense in US Youth National Teamer Mandy McGlynn.
Going forward, Kozlova is worth monitoring as one of the top breakout players not only in the ACC but for now, across the country.
Both Soccer Teams on the Rise in the Polls
Both the men's and women's soccer teams were on the rise in the polls this week as the men climbed higher in the top 10 and the women jumped into the top 20.
Of course, this weekend will give the Hokies the type of test that will see if this team might just have the makings of a serious national title contender that can stay in the top 10 throughout the season.
Unsurprisingly, the women's team was on the rise this past week after a dominant win over Alabama was followed by a comeback win over Yale that showed this team's resilience and toughness. Combine that with three wins against teams from the SEC in their 6-0 start and it's easy to see how the Hokies have quickly risen from borderline top 25 to #16 in the Coaches Poll.
Virginia Tech can't take their foot of the gas for a weekend though with a pair of potentially intriguing non-conference games that could test the Hokies' focus ahead of their ACC opener next weekend against Miami.
Big Weekend Ahead for Men's Team, Women's Team Heads to Wilmington
As mentioned above, this is the first big game in an ACC that is unsurprisingly the best men's soccer conference in the country with five teams in the top 10. Not included is 18th-ranked North Carolina who the Hokies host in their home opener in what is a very important game for the Hokies to show that their preseason ranking isn't a fluke.
Despite this being their first game outside of their home state, the Tar Heels haven't hada great start with 2-1-1 record that includes a home loss to #16 UCF along with a home draw with an unranked but receiving votes Creighton. The Tar Heels haven't gotten it in gear with back-to-back wins and should provide Virginia Tech with their toughest test. However, it's also the first time that Virginia Tech has played at home this season and should have a fired up crowd ready to support a team that might just have the potential to contend for a national title.
This game should give us the first real sign of whether this Hokie team can climb to levels that Virginia Tech hasn't really been at previously in men's soccer.
Things are a little easier for the Hokies' women's soccer team as they head to Wilmington, North Carolina for a pair of games against the College of Charleston and UNC Wilmington. Neither team is currently receiving votes in the polls but just as the men's team was tested in Harrisonburg, these neutral site tournaments are not something that the women's team can afford to overlook as they look to continue to climb the rankings and claim their place in the national conversation once again.