BLACKSBURG – Behind freshman Kai Marshall’s 60th-minute header, the Virginia Tech men’s soccer team topped in-state rival Radford tonight, 1-0, at Thompson Field.
“It’s nice to get another result in the win column and to do it with a shutout against a very good Radford team, a team that’s at the top of their conference, I’m very happy with the result and how we played,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Brizendine said. “We had to go into the bench and depend on some people that haven’t played very many minutes leading up to this, but they stepped up and did the job. We did a good job defending and Kyle [Renfro] made a couple big saves for us.”
Radford (8-3-4) came out with a pair of early opportunities by leading scorer Bernardo Ulmo as he ripped back-to-back shots but Hokie keeper Kyle Renfro was there to block both attempts. Marshall looked to put Tech on top in the 16th minute as he went upper 90 with an attempt, but Highlander keeper Ryan Taylor stretched out to the make the save.
In the 37th minute, Renfro was forced to lay out for a shot from Dario Redondo. The Highlander midfielder was looking toward the low left corner, but Renfro was able to deny the shot while at full stretch.
Virginia Tech (6-7-3) took the lead in the 60th minute when Jed Prater sent a ball from 40 yards out into the box where Marshall was waiting. The freshman was able to get under the ball and pop it toward the far post with his head. It was his second straight game with a goal after netting his first of the season on Friday at Virginia.
Down a goal, the Highlanders picked up their pressure, forcing Renfro to come up with several big saves over the final 25 minutes. The 69th minute saw the Hokie keeper make a diving save to his left to deny Jaime Summers’ shot from the top of the box. Less than two minutes later, Jannik Eckenrode slipped past the Hokie defense and was one-on-on with Renfro. The keeper slid out at the Highlander to cut off his angle and the shot went wide. In the 81st, Renfo again had to deny back-to-back attempts from Radford, knocking away a shot from Lucas Diniz before getting in front of a header attempt from Michael Hutcheon just outside the top of the six-yard box.
In all, Renfro came away with a career-record tying nine saves on the night. It is the third time he has performed the feat in the past two seasons. Earlier this year, he recorded nine stops in a 1-1 draw against Boston College. Last season, he did it in a 1-0 win over then-No. 1 North Carolina.
The Highlanders held a 9-5 edge in shots on goal, but it was Marshall’s goal that gave Hokies their sixth straight win over their rivals in Blacksburg dating back to 2001. Marshall and Ben Strong led Tech with three shots apiece while the freshman put a team-high two shots on target.
The Hokies return to action Saturday as they host Duke on Senior Night at Thompson Field. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
For updates on Virginia Tech men's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_MSoccer).