BLACKSBURG – The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team played to a 1-1 draw tonight against Howard at Thompson Field.
The Hokies controlled the match from start to finish, firing off 28 shots to the Bison’s eight, but after 110 minutes, the two sides finished the game deadlocked.
“I’m glad we came back with a late goal, but the reality is that if we can’t score, it’s going to be a tough remainder of the season,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Brizendine said. “We continue to create chances and I’m happy about that, but no one is scoring goals. Obviously, that’s frustrating, but we’re going to keep grinding it out. We have to. We have to get better. To Howard’s credit, they scored a great goal so it wasn’t our defending effort tonight. We just can’t find the back of the net right now.”
Tech opened up the game early as Daniel Lauretano got inside the Bison six-yard box, but Howard goalkeeper Michael Hamilton slid to his right to stop the low shot aimed inside the left post.
Jed Prater came up with a dipping shot in the 23rd minute, but the attempt ended up just over the crossbar
Howard’s Jeremy Swann gave the Bison a 1-0 lead five minutes later. Talmon Smith slid a ball from the right side to Swann who was sitting at the top of the box. The junior went right side with his shot in a crowded box and the ball found the back of the net.
Ben Strong nearly tied the match three minutes later with a curling shot to the top right corner, but Hamilton came up with the save for Howard. Tech had a 10-2 shot advantage of the half, but Howard led 1-0 on Swann’s goal.
The Hokies ramped up its pressure in the second half and Lauretano nearly found the goal Tech was looking for. A cross from the right side was sent into the striker on the far post, but his headed attempt was stopped. David Clemens followed up the rebound, but his attempt was knocked over the bar.
Tech’s constant pressure paid off in the 85th minute as Howard blocked a shot by Cameron Owens, but a handball was called on the Bison defender. Clemens calmly stepped up and struck the penalty kick to the left side as Hamilton dove the other direction. It was the junior’s team-leading sixth goal of the season.
With the game even after 90 minutes, the two sides headed into overtime where the Hokies continued to push the pace. Tech produced five more shots in overtime, but its best opportunities came in the 95th minute when Connor Pompilio put a rocket off the right post and then with 20 seconds remaining in the first overtime period when Strong put a shot just wide of the left post on a free kick from 20 yards out.
Strong led the Hokies with six shots on the night, followed by Clemens and Owens who added five apiece while Prater chipped in four of his own.
Tech will be back in action Friday night as the team travels north to Charlottesville, Va., for a 6:30 p.m. clash with rival Virginia. The game will broadcast live on regional sports networks and ESPN3.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).