Hokies Wrap Up Spring Season
Weiss optimistic about team's progress
April 29, 2004

BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech men's soccer team wrapped up a challenging spring schedule this week, and head coach Oliver Weiss is optimistic about the progress his team made during the offseason. All returning players, plus newcomer Ian Taylor, who enrolled in January, participated in the schedule that also included a split-squad indoor tournament and a match against Virginia Tech alumni.

Tech fashioned a 4-1-3 record against collegiate competition in regular matches and also faced off against Major League Soccer phenom Freddy Adu and the United States' Under-17 National Team. Adu scored twice as the U17's handed Tech a 3-0 loss.

Weiss admitted the team's focus was on individual play and defense and not as much about offense this spring as the Hokies lost two key defensive starters to graduation. He also wanted to put the team through as much full-speed competition as he could.

"One of the main things was that we wanted to play as many matches as possible. If you count the indoor tournament as one big event, I think we played close to 11 or 12 matches. We wanted to focus on what our weaknesses are and be more concentrated on the individual play and small portions of the team rather than the whole team as a winning unit," said Weiss, who leads the team into the Atlantic Coast Conference in the fall after finishing the BIG EAST with a second place showing in 2003. "Overall, I was pleased with the quantity and pretty pleased with the quality.

"With two seniors graduating and leaving our defense, we were trying to find new members that could play defensively. We tried different people back there so that we know going into the fall what the limitations are for certain players," he added. "We also wanted to challenge our players to play more of an advanced style of soccer, meaning to play two or three different ways. We played a lot of direct soccer last year because we had some players who were good at that, but we wanted to challenge the players to learn to play other ways as well."

While the offensive output this spring was not as high-octane as last fall's nationally ranked unit, Weiss still put an emphasis on finding the back of the net. And while the spring schedule isn't official, Weiss admitted he still wanted the team to be successful record-wise.

"Even though the scores don't mean a lot, I still put some emphasis on the scores because it is part of our tradition to win and to enhance our players ability, with the end result being a successful game. Overall, I think we got a lot accomplished in terms of playing different ways."

The schedule also gave Weiss a chance to evaluate newcomer Ian Taylor. Just as sophomore Ben Nason and junior Dustin Dyer enrolled early last year, Taylor joined the team early with his enrollment in school in January. The move paid dividends for Nason last year when he won the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year award. Weiss admits he was pleasantly surprised by Taylor's transition to collegiate soccer.

"It's always a bonus when you can get a kid in here early to start working with the team. Just as Nason and Dyer came mid-year and made very large contributions to our team in the fall, so did Taylor. He played pretty much every minute in the center of the back and did very well adjusting from not knowing anyone to becoming a very consistent member of our starting unit.

"I also thought Peer Rogge made an impression this spring as far as stepping it up to become a leader on this team," he added.

Tech kicked off its schedule in Florida with a 1-1 tie against Florida International, an Atlantic Soccer Conference team that went 14-4-3 in 2003. The Hokies' Florida trip continued with a 3-2 win against Division II Barry College. The Hokies traveled across the state to face the U17 National Team in Bradenton, dropping a 3-0 contest. On March 27, Tech took on George Washington and St. Francis in exhibition matches at GWU. The Hokies slipped past GWU 2-1 before playing SFU to a 2-2 tie. The spring ledger moved ahead with the Mountain State Invitational in Bluefield, W. Va., on April 4. Tech cruised past Oakland (Mich.) 3-1 in its only match.

The Hokies hosted the Virginia Tech Indoor Soccer Tournament on April 11. With the squads split into the Orange and Maroon teams, the Orange squad defeated West Virginia's Blue team 1-0 before the Orange and Maroon teams battled to a 1-1 tie.

In a preview of competition in 2004, the Hokies next took part in the ACC Spring Festival in Cary, N.C., on the field where next year's conference tournament is scheduled to be played. Tech dropped North Carolina 1-0 on April 17 before losing a 1-0 affair to 2004 opponent and Big Ten powerhouse Penn State. The Hokies played Big South defending champion and scheduled 2004 opponent Coastal Carolina to a 0-0 tie.

"I don't really like to play teams in the spring that we are going to play in the fall, but with this scheduling there was really no way around that. I don't really want to set anything up because if we beat them now, we might take them too lightly in the fall or the other way around," said Weiss. "But with us going into the ACC, it was actually good playing North Carolina. The reason we went down there was to play on the field where the ACC Tournament is going to be - sort of a venue adjustment - so that's why I wanted to do that."

The Hokies concluded the six-weekend schedule with the Alumni weekend last Saturday. Several former players from Tech's 32-year history of the program returned for the event, which featured the current Hokies against the alumni in a 9-1 win for the current squad.

Tech is scheduled for a 19-match ledger this fall that includes four ACC home matches. The regular season opener is set for Sept. 1 at UNC Greensboro.

Spring Break Trip
Friday, Mar. 12 vs. Florida International (T, 1-1)
vs. Barry College (W, 3-2)
Sunday, Mar. 14 vs. U-17 U.S. National Team (L, 0-3)
At George Washington University
Saturday, Mar. 27 vs. George Washington (W, 2-1)
vs. St. Francis (T, 2-2)
Mountain State Invitational, Bluefield, W. Va.
Sunday, Apr. 4 vs. Oakland University (W, 3-1)
VT Indoor Tournament
Sunday, April 11 VT Orange vs. West Virginia Blue (VTO 1, WVB 0)
VT Orange vs. VT Maroon (T, 1-1) (3-2 PKs)
ACC Spring Festival, Cary, N.C.
Saturday, Apr. 17 vs. North Carolina (W, 1-0)
vs. Penn State (L, 0-1)
vs. Coastal Carolina (T, 0-0)
Alumni Weekend
Saturday, April 24, Tech vs. Alumni (W, 9-1)