Hokies shut out Elon 3-0
    Chidester, Gray and Puglisi each score a goal
    September 16, 2007

    Box Score Virginia Tech - 3, Elon - 0
     
    BLACKSBURG, Va. - The Virginia Tech women's soccer team used a 32-shot offensive barrage and strong defensive play to win a 3-0 shutout over the Elon Phoenix Sunday afternoon at Tech Soccer Stadium.

    Three different Hokies scored in the second half as the victory pushes Tech to 3-2-1 with one more non-conference game remaining before the Atlantic Coast Conferece schedule begins, while the Southern Conference's Elon falls to 2-3-1.

    In the first half, Tech outshot Elon 13-3 and had five shots on goal to just one, but the Phoenix's strong defensive play, led by goalkeeper Lizz Johnson, prevented the Hokies from converting.

    The floodgates finally opened at 58:30 when Laurie Beth Puglisi (Arlington, Va.) scored her second goal of the season in front of the goal off a beautiful cross from Heather Hallberg (Richmond, Va.), who was playing against her younger sister, Brittany, a freshman on Elon's squad.

    About 22 minutes later, Marika Gray (Alexandria, Va.) gave the Hokies a 2-0 lead with a strong kick from outside the box, and was followed by Robin Chidester's (Virginia Beach, Va.) first goal of the season with an assist from Mauri Liberati (Warwick, Md.).

    The freshman Gray now has a team-leading five goals in just six games during the season. Puglisi's goal pushes her up the ladder in career goals to eighth with 14 total, now just 10 behind the Hokie leader, Emily Barnhart (2000-03).

    On the defensive end, Ashley Owens (Greensboro, N.C.) recorded her second shutout of the season and fourth overall. Her goals against average has dropped to 0.80 this season.

    The Hokies ended the game with a 16-0 difference in corner kicks and also posted a season high in shots (32) and shots on goal (12). The 16 corner kicks are a career game high for the team, passing over the previous mark of 13, set against Radford in 1995 and VMI in 2004.

    Despite the final score though, head coach Kelly Cagle would like to see the team take better advantage of early opportunities, especially the corner kicks, in the future.

    "I think this team needs to start realizing that they are their own worst enemy in terms of starts," Cagle said. "I don't think it can come from anybody else but from within to really protect each game by starting off better in both effort and execution. It's something we've talked about for the last couple of years. I think it's the nature of a building program to instill that, but the time is here and now to just put a little more pride in starting each game and then executing in the first half of each game."

    Cagle was pleased, though, with the changes made in the second half by the players and also liked that three different women scored a goal.

    "I think it takes the pressure off our team," Cagle said. "The credit goes to our kids for making a change at halftime. To start the first half and be a little lackluster, I felt like the quality of our attack wasn't very good, almost like people were looking to pass responsibility. The credit absolutely goes to our team for being able to come together at halftime and then make the adjustments."

    With the victory, the Hokies have now gone through three straight home games this season without a loss after defeating then-No. 13 Tennessee 2-1 and tying Loyola (Md.) 1-1 last weekend. This is the first time the women have accomplished this small feat since 2004, when the women defeated Miami, Marshall and Miami again during the first round of the ACC Tournament in Blacksburg.

    Cagle hopes that the team can continue to perform well at home and use that momentum on the road.

    "Blacksburg is a special place," Cagle said. "I think it's important for us to protect our home. It makes me happy that we can do a better job of that than in the past. Hopefully, we can get some momentum now to try to engage a little bit more on the road. That seems to be where we've struggled a bit, but I have all the faith in this team. They proved to me in the second half, that on their own, they can decide to make the changes needed, and that gives me confidence moving forward into next weekend."

    The Hokies will travel a far distance next week to face off against their first-ever PAC-10 opponent, the Arizona Wildcats, on Friday, Sept. 21, at 10 p.m. (ET).

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