With the much-needed victory, Tech moves back to .500 overall at 5-5-3 (1-3-2 ACC), also moving up to an eighth-place tie in the conference at five points with Boston College. NC State falls to 5-6-2 (0-5-0 ACC). Only the top eight teams are invited to the ACC Tournament. Tech has four ACC opponents remaining - No. 4 Boston College, Maryland, No. 11 North Carolina and No. 3 Virginia.
"We just felt like today was a really important day for us to feel good about our performance because we wanted to head in with some confidence the last half of our season," Head Coach Kelly Cagle said. "It's an important win for us, regardless of the opponent. NC State battled and played hard, so I'm proud of our kids for matching them physically and for executing and putting away our chances."
Prior to Sunday, the Hokies had only managed four goals in the last six games, but the offense got into an early rhythm against the Wolfpack and never let up, converting four goals, the most in an ACC game since a 5-0 victory over Miami in 2005. In the 2006 season opener, Tech defeated Radford, 6-0.
"Scoring early was definitely one of our goals," Cagle said. "We felt like if we could get off to a really good start today that it would be to our advantage, so I think it's great that our kids responded and came out so hard so early."
For the first time since Sept. 9 against Loyola (Md.), a span of eight games, Tech scored in the first half in the eighth minute as Johnson (Norfolk, Va.) made another one of her patented long throw-ins that was deflected into the goal by a Wolfpack defender for the early 1-0 lead.
Originally, the score was awarded to Puglisi (Arlington, Va.) because she jumped with the defender attempting to head the ball in, but after a review of the tape, it was revealed she did not touch the ball and that NC State had an 'own goal'.
However, official NCAA rules state that if a pass, in this case a throw-in, is deflected into the goal by a defender, the score is awarded to the one attempting the pass. As a result, the box score was changed with Johnson being awarded the goal, her first career score.
About 27 minutes later, Puglisi headed in her first goal of the game, off another long throw-in from Johnson, who was awarded the assist.
At the end of the half, Tech had five shots against NC State's one and also held a 4-2 edge in corner kicks.
In the second half, after NC State received a yellow card at the 61:39 mark, Kelly Lynch (Mullica Hill, N.J.) launched a free kick that Puglisi headed in her for second goal of the game, the second time ever that Puglisi recorded two goals in a game with the first coming last year at Miami.
With today's performance, Puglisi moves up the charts in two Tech record book categories. She now has sole possession of sixth-place in career points with 42. Victoria Sarfo-Kantanka (1998-2001) is second with 47, and Emily Barnhart (2000-03) is first with 61. Puglisi is now also tied for sixth in career goals with Jessica Myers (2000-03) at 17. Barnhart leads that category, too, with 24 goals.
"I felt bad for 'LB' because she physically hasn't felt that great this season, but the last few games, including today, she's felt better," Cagle said. "We definitely think she's one of our most impactful players. You could tell today that she felt better, and you can see why we want to support her in feeling healthy and fresh in the game because she is such a big part of the team moving forward."
Four minutes following Puglisi's second goal, Johnson joined in on the fun with her second career goal off an assist from Jennifer Harvey (Roanoke, Va.), who passed the ball after receiving a corner kick from Erin Moore (Poolesville, Md.). NC State avoided the shutout in the 87th minute with a 35-yard free kick from Katie Ruiz.
Johnson becomes just the sixth individual this season to score a goal for the Hokies, who last year had 10 individuals contribute. Marika Gray (Alexandria, Va.) leads the team with seven goals, while Puglisi has six, combining for 13 of the 17 total goals.
"It's nice to not have Marika Gray have to score all of the goals for us," Cagle said. "There is some pressure on her as a freshman that's kind of tough to deal with. The more people we can get scoring, the better it is for us."
"I'm also really happy for Julian because she has had so many assists," Cagle added. "I think it's neat for her personally to finally crack the window open in terms of scoring goals."
With the two assists, Johnson has a career total of 16, one behind the senior Moore, who notched her 17th today to stay ahead.
The Hokies finished with eight total shots against seven from NC State and also held a 9-4 lead in corner kicks. Ashley Owens (Greensboro, N.C.) finished with three saves and one goal allowed, while the Wolfpack's Sydney Little left the game in the 68th minute with two saves and four goals allowed.
The Tech women now face the toughest two-game stretch of the season as they travel to Charlottesville on Thursday for an 8 p.m. matchup with current-No. 3 Virginia, followed by the 2006 NCAA Champion North Carolina Tar Heels visiting Blacksburg next Sunday for a 5 p.m. start time.
The Fox Soccer Channel will broadcast live nationally Thursday's game between the two in-state rivals, marking the first time ever that the Hokies' women's soccer team has been on national television. The men's soccer team defeated Tulsa earlier this season as part of FSC's weekly college soccer coverage.