CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Looking to knock off No. 1 North Carolina for the second-straight season proved to be a tough task for the Virginia Tech men's soccer team as it fell tonight, 2-0, at Fetzer Field.
After an hour and a half weather delay left the field slick at kickoff, both sides tried to ease it the game and pick their spots early on in the wet conditions. Hunter Byrnes gave the Hokies a great opportunity early, taking the ball straight at the Tar Heel defense. The redshirt freshman was able to slip past a pair of defenders on a run down the right side on his way toward the North Carolina goal. Unfortunately, he was closed down on just before getting shot off from inside the six-yard box.
North Carolina got on the board in the 14th minute as Jordan McCrary slipped a through ball into the Tech box that Martin Murphy ran on to. The senior chipped a ball over an outstretched Kyle Renfro that dropped into the back of the goal.
Over a minute later, Murphy pushed the advantage to two as a Hokie foul 30 yards out set up a free kick. Murphy hit a right to left strike that dipped under the crossbar and inside the far post past Renfro for his second goal of the game and fourth of the year.
The Hokies nearly cut the lead in half in the 33rd minute as Jed Prater hit a low shot to the left post that drifted just outside. David Clemens was sliding in to redirect the shot on goal, but he came up just short in the attempt.
In the final minute of the half, Tech earned its lone corner of the match. David Fiorello got a free header on the far side, but North Carolina goalkeeper Scott Goodwin corralled the late attempt to keep his team's lead at two going into the half.
The Hokies carried the momentum from the end of the first half into the second as they kept more possession and at times were dictating play. Searching for goals, they continued to put pressure on their opposition, but were unable to find space inside the Tar Heel penalty box needed to get shots off. The constant pressure by the Hokies led to several run outs for North Carolina, but time and time again, Renfro and his defenders came up with stops to keep the game at 2-0.
"The effort was very good tonight," Virginia Tech head coach Mike Brizendine said. "They didn't quit. In a 2-0 game you just want to get that goal. If that game to 2-1, it just changes the dynamic of the game. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get that goal against a well-organized defense."
The Tar Heels held a 13-5 shot advantage, yet only had three more shots on goal than the Hokies. Daniel Lauretano led Tech with a pair of shots on the night while Fiorello, Prater and Strong each added one. Renfro finished the match with two saves.
"There is a reason why North Carolina is No. 1," Brizendine said. "They're a very good team with very good players. Their goals were top notch. I thought that our group learned some very valuable lessons tonight. This game was very much a learning and maturing process for them."
The Hokies return home next week as they host No. 24 Boston College at Thompson Field on Sept. 14. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).