BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team fell to Clemson, 2-1, tonight in its final regular season match of the season on Senior Night at Thompson Field. Prior to the match, the Hokies honored senior student-athletes James Daly, Tyler McCartney and James Shupp. Freshman defender Kevin Reitzel scored his first career goal as Hokie in the 87th minute, but Clemson held on for the conference victory.
The Tigers (7-8-1, 3-4-0 ACC) struck first at the 6:45 mark when Brynjar Benediktsson’s free kick was headed by Austin Savage, who nodded the ball down into the box and Bastien Bacro-Duverger was able to finish. In the 20th minute, redshirt freshman midfielder Taylor Lemmon made a run down the left side of the pitch for Tech and put in a put in crossing pass back towards the top of the box. Freshman midfielder Mike Wilkie dummied the ball and freshman midfielder Ben Strong ran onto it, but his shot sailed high.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Renfro came well out of his box and stopped a shot from Clemson’s Amadou Dia in the 33rd minute to keep the game 1-0 going into halftime. Clemson had eight shots to three for Tech in the first period.
Tech (4-12-2, 1-6-1 ACC) played well to start the second period as Reitzel got his head on the end of cross from sophomore midfielder Jed Prater in 64th minute, forcing a save from Clemson goalkeeper Cody Mizell.
Then, in the 68th minute, Clemson’s Jack Metcalf moved into the box and fired a shot at Renfro, who stopped the initial attempt. However, the rebound came back out to Metcalf who followed it up with another shot on frame. Sophomore defender Devante Dubose was there at the near post and blocked the shot off the line, but the referee determined Dubose had handled the ball while making the block, resulting in a straight red card for Dubose and a penalty kick for Clemson.
Benediktsson stepped for Clemson to take the penalty but his low shot went wide left of the goal, keeping the score at 1-0. But at 84:14, the Tigers extended their lead to 2-0 as Savage cracked a shot from 30 yards out in the middle of the pitch which found the back of the net. Iain Smith was credited with the assist.
The goal would prove to be the game-winner as the Hokies, despite being down to 10 men, cut the deficit in half just over two minutes later. Reitzel finished off a blocked shot by sophomore midfielder Beto Velazquez, making the score 2-1. However, Clemson would hold on over the last three minutes for the win. Tech outshot Clemson, 8-7, in the second 45 minutes. Corners were even at three each in the second half.
Renfro posted eight saves in goal for Tech, bringing his season total to 97.
After wrapping up the regular season this evening, the Hokies now turn their attention to this year’s ACC Tournament. Tech will play in a first round match on Monday, Nov. 7 at 1 p.m. against North Carolina State. The match will be played at Fetzer Field on the campus of the tournament’s number one seed, North Carolina, in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“We’re looking forward to the ACC Tournament,” said Tech head coach Mike Brizendine. “We’ve been in a lot of close, one-goal games and it’s been a learning experience for our young guys this year. The important thing is that we learn from these experiences. We’re continuing to grow and get better and we’re going to go back and prepare to play NC State on Monday.”
The winner of the Virginia Tech-NC State first round match will play the No. 3 Tar Heels on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in a quarterfinal match at Fetzer Field. The complete tournament bracket for the 25th ACC Men's Soccer Championship can be found here.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).