Hokie men's soccer enjoyed a successful 2016

BLACKSBURG- The Virginia Tech men’s soccer team ended their season in December for the first time since 2007. The Hokies fell to Wake Forest in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament to cap off a successful season.

“I would like reiterate my gratitude to the senior class for their perseverance and dedication to this program,” said head coach Mike Brizendine. “What can I say, it was an awesome year for us. Speaking on behalf of our whole staff, we are extremely proud of what the team was able to accomplish this year. We realize we need to work extremely hard this offseason to achieve our goals.”

Tech finished with a 13-5-4 record and a program-high nine shutouts. The team ended the year at No. 8 in the NSCAA Poll and No. 11 in the RPI, their highest rankings of the season.

The Hokies ended their ACC games 3-4-1 with wins over NC State, Duke and Pittsburgh. The conference as a whole had the best NCAA Tournament attendance in history with nine teams making the field, the most out of any conference. The ACC made up fifty percent of the Sweet Sixteen.

The Hokies were undefeated in non-conference play going 7-0-1 in the regular season and 10-0-1 including NCAA Tournament matches. The team was ranked in the NSCAA Coaches’ Poll for nine straight weeks climbing as high as No. 15.

Tech enjoyed their fifth tournament berth and first since 2007. The Hokies earned their at-large bid after playing eight Top 25 teams this regular season, fifth most in the nation.

More than half the team had at least one goal this season with 16 Hokies finding the back of the net. Junior Marcelo Acuna led the team in goals (11), points (25), shots (94) and game winning goals (5).

The Hokies seemed to find success when they scored first and often. When the game was decided by one goal the Hokies were 7-2-0 and when scoring two or three goals the team was 8-1-0. Scoring first, Tech went 10-1-0 this season.

The program-high nine shutouts were against No. 18 Ohio State, Oakland, No. 24 Georgetown, Longwood, NC State, Delaware, Virginia, No. 9 Charlotte and ETSU. Upset victories included No. 18 Ohio State, No. 24 Georgetown, tenth-seeded Charlotte and seventh-seeded Indiana. The previous record was eight shutouts in 2004 and 2005.

Acuna raked in the postseason awards being named to the All-ACC Second Team, NSCAA All-South Region First Team, Top Drawer Soccer Best IX Third Team and the NSCAA All-America Third Team. During the year, Acuna was named ACC Offensive Player of the Week twice and Virginia Tech Athletic of the Week three times. At the conclusion of the season, Acuna ranked fifth in the nation for shots per game.

Goalie Ben Lundgaard played a successful junior campaign in between the posts. He had career highs across the board including minutes played (2025), saves (87), save percentage (.806), goals allowed average (.933), shut outs (8) and shots faced (258). Lundgaard was named ACC Defensive Player of the Week for Week One after shutting out No. 18 Ohio State and Oakland. Top Drawer Soccer named Lundgaard to the Best XI Third Team.

Freshman Will Mejia was named to Top Drawer Soccer’s Best Freshman XI First Team after starting all 22 games for the Hokies. Mejia tallied one goal against South Florida and contributed to the defense that had nine shutouts.

Virginia Tech was awarded the NSCAA 2015-16 Men’s Team Academic Award during the year as well. This list consisted of 892 soccer teams throughout the nation that had a minimum team GPA of 3.00 for the entire 2015-16 academic year. The Hokies made the list with an overall 3.06 GPA.

Looking towards 2017, the Hokies are returning nine starters. A talented freshman class will return after netting nine goals this season. With a strong signing class, Tech will add some depth to the already talented roster.

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