BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team won its third straight game as the Hokies defeated Longwood, 1-0, tonight at Thompson Field. Redshirt freshman defender Drew Ranahan scored the game-winner in the 47th minute with a header from a corner kick by freshman midfielder Ben Strong.
In the first half the Hokies (3-2-0) came out of the gates a little slow as Longwood outshot Tech, 6-3, in the first period. Tech’s best chance came when sophomore midfielder David Clemens got his head on the end of a cross from junior midfielder Robert Alberti in the 12th minute. The match would prove to a physical battle all night long as the two teams each racked up 18 fouls and two yellow cards.
Just one minute and seven seconds into the second half, Tech got the breakthrough. Strong struck a low corner to the near post which Ranahan redirected off his head low into the far post from six yards for his first collegiate goal. The assist was Strong’s second of the season.
The Hokies continued to attack the Lancer penalty area following the goal. Two minutes later, junior forward Michael Garrick picked up a loose ball and was in on Lancer goalkeeper Joel Helmick, who saved Garrick’s initial shot attempt. The rebound came out to Alberti who fired a low shot on frame that was cleared off the endline by a Longwood defender.
“In the second half, I thought we had a little bit more life, said Brizendine. “Obviously getting an early goal in the half always helps your side and they had to clear a couple more off the line.”
In the 74th minute, Tech appeared to have scored an insurance goal when freshman midfielder Kevin Reitzel’s header off a free kick from Strong hit the crossbar and came straight down. After the initial signal was a goal, the referees conversed and determined that the ball had not gone in. However, Tech would control the remainder of the game to earn the one-goal win.
The Hokie defense and sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Renfro, this week’s ACC Men’s Soccer Co-Player of the Week, tallied their second straight shutout. But, it was not easy as Longwood had three free kick opportunities from just outside the 18-yard box.
“I was happy that we were able to finish the game with a shutout,” noted Brizendine. “One area where we have to improve is giving up free kicks at the top of the 18. I thought we were fortunate there. But, I’m proud of the guys. We knew what the game might be like and it was like that so we’re happy to pick up our third win.”
Longwood (1-3-1) and Tech each finished with 14 shots on the night, while the Lancers held a 5-3 advantage in corners.
Renfro played all 90 minutes in goal for Tech and finished with four saves, lowering his season goals against average to 0.77.
The Hokies three-game winning streak is their first since the 2007 season, when they won 14 matches and advanced to the College Cup. In addition, the last time Tech posted back-to-back shutouts was in the 2007 NCAA Tournament.
Tech returns to action on Friday, Sept. 16, as it hits the road for the first time this year, traveling to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to play 11th-ranked Boston College in ACC play at 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).