Hokies' great season ends with loss to Wake at College Cup
By Jimmy Robertson
December 14, 2007
#8 Men's Soccer vs. #1 Wake Forest
L, 0-2

CARY, N.C. - Over the course of the coming days, players on the Virginia Tech men's soccer team, along with the coaches, will be feeling an array of emotions as they contemplate their fabulous 2007 season.

Unfortunately, the main emotion at the moment is disappointment.

The Hokies' wonderful campaign - the best in school history - came to an end as Wake Forest got two second-half goals from Marcus Tracy to knock off Tech 2-0 in a men's College Cup semifinal match played Friday evening at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C.

With the loss, Tech - which went into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 11 seed - finished the season with a 14-4-5 mark. The 14 wins tied for the best single-season at Tech. But more importantly, Tech set a new standard for its men's soccer program, winning three matches in the NCAAs and advancing to the College Cup for the first time.

Wake Forest, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, improved to 21-2-2 on the season and advanced to the championship match after falling to UC Santa Barbara in the semifinals a year ago.

"In retrospect," Tech coach Oliver Weiss said. "the better team won tonight. Wake Forest did enough to get the goals and they played some great defense on top of that. When you score goals and play great defense, you're going to have a good chance to win the game.

"I'm not taking anything away from my team. We fought and we did everything according to our plan until about the 50th minute. We were where we wanted to be and then things didn't go our way."

That was primarily because of the play of Tracy, a junior forward from Sandyhook, Conn. After a scoreless first half, Tracy got the Demon Deacons on the board early in the second half. A foul on Tech's James Shupp led to a Wake free kick and the Demon Deacons' Sam Cronin made a perfect pass to Tracy, who came across the box unmarked and headed it in at the 50:19 mark to give Wake a 1-0 lead.

"I think the details made the difference in the game," Tech keeper Markus Aigner said. "That one time, we didn't mark like we should have. It's tough to be focused for 90 minutes and to mark up really tight for 90 minutes. They have really good forwards and they don't miss chances like that."

Tracy struck again late in the match again off a free kick. He headed the ball to teammate Zach Schilawski, who returned it back to Tracy. Tracy got the ball past Aigner for a goal at the 82:41 mark to put the match away for the Demon Deacons.

Tech had several opportunities to get on the board, and misfired on a golden one that would have given them an early lead. Patrick Nyarko, the Hokies' sensational forward, wiggled free from a defender and had an open net after keeper Brian Edwards extended himself too far. Nyarko, though, slipped, and instead of forcing a shot, he gathered himself and delivered a sweet pass to Robert Edmans. Edmans, a 6-foot-6 forward from Essex, England, had a great look at the goal, but rushed it and fired high over the top of the goal 13 minutes into the match.

"I score those all the time in training," Edmans said. "Patrick did really well, and I had to stretch a little bit for it and I guess I kicked it too hard. If I mis-hit it, it probably rolls in. I was very disappointed to miss that one. When you're playing a good soccer team and you've got a good scoring opportunity, you've got to put the ball away."

"Scoring the first goal all playoff season long has been instrumental in winning the game," Weiss said. "Tonight was no different. If we had scored the first goal, we might have changed their style a little bit. It certainly changed our style after they scored. The first goal is crucial."

That turned out to be Tech's best scoring opportunity. The Hokies finished with only three shots on goals despite having nine corner kicks. Wake Forest kept Nyarko, who had seven goals and dished out 10 assists this season, covered up. In the end, the Hokies couldn't get Nyarko free and force Edwards to make a difficult save.

The match marked the ends of the careers of five seniors along with several members of Tech's foreign contingent who will be returning overseas.

But hopefully, they started a new era in Virginia Tech men's soccer.

"Virginia Tech soccer has taken a great step forward this year," said Edmans, who will be heading back to England. "It's where it deserves to be. Virginia Tech has great facilities, great trainers, great players and great coaches. We've taken a big step forward and I'll always remember it."