Hokies advance to first-ever College Cup
Nyarko scores 31st career goal
December 11, 2007
#8 Men's Soccer at #2 Connecticut
W, 1-0

STORRS, Conn. - A key defensive play by midfielder Charlie Campbell and Patrick Nyarko's 31st career goal helped the No. 11 seed Virginia Tech men's soccer team earn its first-ever College Cup berth with a 1-0 win at No. 3 seed Connecticut Saturday afternoon at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn.

The Hokies are now 14-3-5 overall and 4-2-4 on the road. With its fourteen win, Tech ties its single season record for wins. Tech is also 7-0-0 in day matches, and 8-1-1 in non-conference action this season.

Tech is 3-2-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament with four appearances since 2002. The Hokies have reached the national semifinals for the first time in school history in their third consecutive national tournament appearance.

"We played a top-ranked team at home where they hadn't lost," head coach Oliver Weiss said. "We took a 1-0 lead into halftime and that was huge. We built on that confidence and momentum. At the end of the day, it was a great win for our program. We have another match and that's what it's all about this time of year."

To start the match, Tech took four corner kicks within the first 10 minutes but Connecticut almost converted a score when Julius James headed high off the post. The Hokies immediately raced back down the muddy field and Robert Edmans sent a long pass to midfield, where Nyarko gained possession of the leading pass and weaved between a pair of Huskie defenders and delivered a 20-yard grounder that hit the far post and bounced into the back of the net to give Tech an early 1-0 lead at 21:39.

Nyarko has a team-high 24 points this season, and is now tied for the team lead in goals with seven markers as well as a team-leading 10 assists. The Kumasi, Ghana native is tied for third place on the school's all-time goals with 31 goals in 56 career games. He is also fourth place in Tech history with 86 career points.

"When the ball was sent to the middle of the field by Edmans," Nyarko said. "I saw the opportunity because the defender didn't go for the ball, and it was a great flick by Edmans. I just kept my head down and tried to get the ball past the goalie."

The Hokies are now 11-1-2 when scoring first and are 6-0-1 when Nyarko scores a goal this season.

In the second half, Tech was outshot 10-1 by UConn but withstood the pressure to preserve their seventh shutout of the season.

"We didn't really change our strategy," Weiss said. "UConn figured out how to get the ball up front quicker and more efficiently, but we tried to attack and make it more difficult for UConn. We did that most the first half, and maybe we lost some of our legs because we lost a tremendous amount of energy. We got it to the other end a couple of times and we kept it there."

In goal for the Hokies, junior Markus Aigner made four saves and improved to 9-2-5 with his fifth shutout of the year.

O'Brian White managed another UConn chance by crossing a header which went directly into the hands of Aigner 10 minutes into the second half. White had another quality chance when he missed wide left in the 61st minute.

Campbell came up with a key block of another shot by James in the 19th minute off a UConn corner kick.

"I was just trying to make a play," Campbell said. "I saw the ball coming and I was on the back post. It was just a reaction. I wasn't even thinking. It was really a whole team effort and that was just one play. You could point out multiple other plays by my teammates. We made some quality defensive stops in the second half. Everyone fought like warriors out there."

Tech will play Wake Forest in the College Cup on Friday, Dec. 14 at SAS Soccer Complex in Cary, N.C.