Hokies eliminated by UNC Greensboro, 2-1, in NCAA Tournament's first round
    Nyarko scores record-setting 16th goal
    November 11, 2006

    Box Score UNCG 2, VT 1
     
    GREENSBORO, N.C. - One week after getting eliminated from the ACC tournament in heartbreaking fashion by giving up two late goals, history repeated itself in more ways than one on Saturday afternoon, as the Virginia Tech men's soccer team lost at UNC Greensboro by a score of 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Up 1-0 with less than 13 minutes to play, the Hokies - much like they did against N.C. State on Oct. 31 - once again gave up a pair of scores as time wound down to fall to the Spartans in what happened to be a rematch of a 2005 second round NCAA Tournament game. UNCG also emerged from that closely contested contest via a penalty kick shootout after the teams played to a 0-0 tie.

    "It's disappointing, but this sums up our year," sophomore forward Patrick Nyarko said after the game. "We're always so close, but so far. We've been so unlucky. We take the lead and let it slip."

    "It's always tough when you give up two goals in the last 13 minutes," junior goalkeeper Drew Czekanski added. "It seemed like we had the game under good control, but like Patrick said, it does kind of sum up our season. We had two little slip-ups, and they capitalized."

    It was Nyarko who put the Hokies (11-8-1) on top in the 58th minute with his 16th goal of the season, a total that now stands as the all-time single-season high in Tech history. He surpasses the 15 scored by both Bobby O'Brien in 2003; and recent Virginia Tech Hall of Fame inductee Ray Crittenden in 1988.

    The goal came from the right side of the 18-yard line after senior Chad Steuck sent a deep, arching chip pass that fell between a few Spartan defenders in front of the box. UNCG goalkeeper Nate Berry was rushing out to make a play, but Nyarko was able to touch it to his right and send the ball with his right foot into the unattended net to give the Hokies the 1-0 lead.

    "It's just a matter of not giving up until the play is over," Nyarko said of his record-setting goal. "When the ball was passed, I thought I had lost it, but I just decided to give it a try and was able to get to it."

    The Spartans (15-7-1) equaled things up in the 78th minute when Scott Jones sent a pass to Thomas Campbell, who was waiting about 12 yards out in front of the net. He settled the ball with his back to the net, and with his defender off-balance, spun and fired a low ball to the left corner of the net past a diving Czekanski.

    "They got the ball in down low," Czekanski explained. "Out defender got turned, and it gave [Campbell] a little space and he was able to get enough on it. He had the angle on me and put it in the back corner. It was a good shot."

    The deciding goal came with just 34 seconds remaining, but not without a bit of controversy. Following a Hokie foul about 22 yards away, the Spartans were awarded a free kick.

    As Jones set up to take the kick for UNCG, the Tech defense began to set up a wall about 10 yards from the spot of the ball.

    "I was trying to set up the wall on the post," Czekanski described. "I thought the ref had indicated that he was going to blow the whistle [prior to the restart of play], but he didn't."

    "When [the referee] moves a defender back from the ball for encroachment, typically he gives a whistle to restart," head coach Oliver Weiss added.

    According to the Hokie players, that whistle never came, and Jones sent the game-winning shot past the left end of the unprepared wall - a shot that Czekanski had no clue was coming.

    "He just placed the ball on the other side - I didn't even see him strike the ball," Czekanski said. "It was a mental lapse, and in a game like this against a team of that caliber, that will hurt you a lot."

    "I've got to look at [the play] on tape to look at the specifics," Weiss said. "But it wasn't the reason we lost the game. We didn't show the urgency that UNCG showed during the last 15 minutes. Our guys were content, and those types of things have plagued us all year. We just did not improve on the mistakes and weaknesses that we had all season. All year long we've given up goals on restarts."

    Czekanski made seven saves on the day for the Hokies, who fall to 0-2-2 in NCAA Tournament games.

    "I've got to give the guys credit," Weiss concluded. "These seniors have been in the NCAA Tournament three of the last four years, and the program had never been in the tournament before that. We've made a lot of strides, but we don't want to be a perennial first or second-round exit team. We want to go on to bigger and better things, and that will be the mission from this point forward. We've always been an underdog, but now we have to learn how to defend our right to be a top team year-in and year-out."

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