BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team tied in-state and Atlantic Coast Conference rival No. 21 Virginia, 0-0 in double overtime, tonight at Thompson Field. The Hokies posted their second straight shutout and fourth overall clean sheet of the season.
“I thought our first half tonight was one of our best performances of the season,” said Tech head coach Mike Brizendine. “In the second half, it got little loose, but I’m still pleased at what I saw. We stuck to our game-plan and when we stick to our game-plan, we’re successful.”
Tech (4-9-2, 1-4-1 ACC) came out as the stronger side in the first half and was able to keep a majority of play in the UVa half of the field. Redshirt freshman midfielder Taylor Lemmon took a good strike only 71 seconds into the contest, but his effort from the left side of the box when just wide of the near post. Virginia’s Will Bates had the ‘Hoos first good chance of the night as he forced Tech sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Renfro into a fine kick save in the 18th minute.
The Hokies’ best chance of the first half came in the 22nd minute as sophomore forward Mikey Minutillo ran onto a through ball on the right side of the box and fired a shot which was deflected away towards the center of the box by Virginia goalkeeper Spencer LaCivita. Freshman forward Will Witherspoon was trailing the play and followed up the shot by Minutillo, but couldn’t put the rebound in. The Hokies kept the pressure on as Minutillo’s quick shot from the top of the box was right knocked away by LaCivita at the 36:41 mark.
With just under five minutes remaining in the first period, UVa’s Bates broke free for a header which appeared to be heading for the top corner of the goal, but Renfro made a great save, as he parried the ball over the crossbar with his hand to keep the match scoreless heading into halftime. Tech held a 6-4 advantage in shots in the first 45 minutes.
In the second half, UVa (9-5-1, 3-2-1 ACC) came out on the attack early as Brian Span had three shots in the first six minutes, but only one was on frame. Tech, however, came back with offense of their own as junior midfielder Robert Alberti ripped a low shot from 12 yards off a pass from sophomore midfielder David Clemens that was saved by LaCivita at 57:16. Just four minutes later, Lemmon’s full volley in the box off a cross from the right flank flew wide of the near post.
Then at 64:50, the Hokies were whistled for a handball in the box and UVa was awarded a penalty kick. Bates took the penalty for UVa, but Renfro dove to his right and stopped Bates’ low right-footed drive from the spot. Minutillo had another good look for Tech in the 74th minute, but his effort sailed high and the Hokies entered overtime for the seventh time in 15 matches this season.
In the first overtime, both teams exchanged shots on goal. Tech had the best chance in the second extra period as Lemmon broke free on a free kick from freshman midfielder Ben Strong, but his diving header from the just outside the six-yard box was held by LaCivita. The Hokies had one last chance in the final seconds as junior defender David Fiorello’s long throw-in was headed out by a UVa defender to redshirt junior defender Jeremy Williams, but his rip from outside the box was high of the target.
Renfro, the ACC leader in saves, had seven stops on the night and now has 81 on the season. UVa had 19 shots to 14 for Tech for the match, while corners were even at five apiece. Lemmon led the Tech offense with four shots and Minutillo had three.
“Kyle Renfro made some great saves for us tonight,” said Brizendine. “He made an outstanding save on Bates’ header in the first half and obviously he did a great job on the PK as well.”
UVa is ranked 21st in this week’s Soccer America national poll and is receiving votes in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll.
Tonight's tie between the Hokies and 'Hoos was only the second draw in the series in the last 30 meetings dating back to 1975.
The Hokies are on the road next week, traveling to Radford for a 6 p.m. match on Tuesday, Oct. 25, before heading to Durham, N.C., to play Duke in an ACC match on Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).