Men's Soccer Falls Short in Season Opener
O'Brien, Mertins lead Tech's offensive charge
August 30, 2002

NORFOLK, Va. - The Virginia Tech men's soccer team opened the 2002 season with a 3-2 overtime loss to Old Dominion Friday night, in a match played before 338 fans in Norfolk, Va.

Old Dominion forced the game into a sudden-victory overtime period after a successful penalty kick in the 81st minute of play. The Monarch's then rode their wave of momentum into the extra frame scoring the golden goal of the match just 18 seconds into the first overtime period.

Despite the loss in his debut at Tech, head coach Oliver Weiss remained positive.

"Any time your team puts forth an effort like we did tonight, you have to be happy," Weiss stated. "I think tonight showed our inexperience. We were just not able to finish (the scoring opportunities) we needed to. That will change though We just have to remain positive and get ready for the next game."

The Hokies entered intermission with a 1-0 lead compliments of a Bobby O'Brien goal in the sixth minute of play. Senior Keith Benderoth served the ball over the Old Dominion defenders from midfield. O'Brien gathered the pass and shot the ball over the Monarch goalkeeper for Tech's first goal.

On two occasions, though, in the first half, Tech managed to beat the Monarch's goalkeeper only to have the ball saved by an Old Dominion defenseman. The Hokies entered intermission with a one-goal advantage.

In second half action, the Monarch's evened the score in the 71st minute of the match. On a direct kick from just five yards outside the penalty box, Old Dominion's Kevon Harris connected with a diving Kyle Hartley who found the back of the net on a header.

With just under 11 minutes remaining, Tech freshman Charlie Howe played a corner kick five yards out from goal. Junior Lasse Mertins elevated above the pack and buried a header into the back of the net giving the Hokies a 2-1 lead.

However, nearly 30-seconds later, a Tech committed a foul inside the penalty box resulting in a Monarch penalty kick. With 9:30 left to play Ben Cummins converted on the penalty kick forcing the sudden-victory overtime period.

"Our defenders did a good job tonight," Weiss commented on Tech's defensive effort as the Hokies held Old Dominion's Atllla Vendlegh scoreless. Vendelegh, the Monarch's star offensive player, received Colonial Athletic Association Player of the Year honors last year as a sophomore and Freshman All-America honors during his rookie campaign.

"We decided not to give any one particular player the assignment to mark him," Weiss continued. "We did a good job defending as a team tonight and I think it goes to show what kind of players we have here at Tech."

The Hokies will return to action Tuesday, Sept. 3, when they travel to Liberty for a non-conference match. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

VIRGINIA TECH (0-1)  1   1   0  -  2
Old Dominion (1-0)   0   2   1  -  3 OT