DURHAM, N.C. – The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team lost at Duke, 2-1, in a hard fought match at a rainy Koskinen Stadium tonight in its final regular season Atlantic Coast Conference road match of the season. Redshirt freshman midfielder Taylor Lemmon scored his first career goal as a Hokie, but the Blue Devils scored in the sixth minute and tallied an own goal in the 78th minute as the game-winner.
“Tonight was tough because I thought that we put in another good effort,” said Tech head coach Mike Brizendine. “I thought that there were times, especially in the second half, when we had control of the game and we put ourselves in good positions to score. We battled tonight and we had opportunities against a good ACC team in Duke.”
Duke (9-6-1, 4-3-1 ACC) got on the board only 5:05 into the match when Jonathan Aguirre volleyed home a cross from Chris Tweed-Kent on the back post. Under a minute later, sophomore forward Mikey Minutillo had Tech’s first shot as he nearly chipped Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw, but the Blue Devil ‘keeper was just able to tip the ball over the crossbar. A defensive first half saw only six shots between the two teams, but Tech had four of the six. Junior midfielder Robert Alberti let a shot fly from outside the 18 in the 35th minute, but Belshaw was there for the stop. The score remained 1-0 in favor of Duke heading into the intermission as Tech also outcornered the Blue Devils, 4-1, in the first 45 minutes.
The Hokies (4-11-2, 1-5-1 ACC) came out as the stronger side early in the second half and controlled possession for the opening 15 minutes of the period. Freshman defender Kevin Reitzel got his head on the end of a cross from freshman midfielder Ben Strong in the 49th minute, but a Duke defender was able to clear the ball away from danger before the ball could reach the back post. Minutillo also fired a shot wide for Tech in the 58th minute, as the Hokies continued to maintain possession in the Duke half of the field and put pressure on the Blue Devil defense.
Duke, however, was awarded a penalty kick in the 72nd minute when a Blue Devil went down in the box. Andrew Wenger, the ACC’s leading scorer, stepped up to take the penalty for Duke, but Wenger’s right footed shot sailed high and the game remained 1-0. Six minutes later, the Blue Devils would increase their lead to 2-0 after a header by Duke’s Jan Trnka-Amrhein was deflected around in the box off a Tech defender and into the net for an own goal at 77:28.
The Hokies would not go down easily as just two minutes later, sophomore midfielder Jed Prater put Lemmon in on a through ball on the left side of the pitch. Lemmon found himself one on one with Belshaw, dribbled into the box and calmly slipped the ball past the Duke goalie for his first collegiate goal at 79:39, cutting the deficit in half. The assist was Prater’s first of the season. Despite the Hokies pushing numbers forward over the final 10 minutes, the Blue Devils held on for the conference win.
“We’re going to come back and prepare for Clemson and we’re looking forward to our next opportunity on Thursday to get another win the ACC,” concluded Brizendine.
For the match, Virginia Tech outcornered Duke, 7-3. Shot totals ended at nine for Duke and seven for Tech. Sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Renfro played all 90 minutes between the pipes for Tech and posted three saves.
The Hokies wrap up the regular season on Thursday, Nov. 3 as they host Clemson from Thompson Field at 7 p.m. on Senior Night.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).