PROVO, Utah – After two short days in Blacksburg, the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team hit the road again, this time bound for the first round of the NCAA Tournament hosted by Brigham Young University. The Hokies took on the home-team Cougars in the second match of the day, but fell 2-0 in their fourth contest in the past eight days. BYU improves to 18-5-0 on the year and will face fourth-seeded Southern Cal on Sunday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Tech drops to 10-9-4 with the loss.
The match turned out to be a physical one, with neither team getting a good look at the goal in the early going. Tech’s best scoring opportunity in the first frame came with a little over 12 minutes remaining. Junior Robin Chidester (Virginia Beach, Va.) took a corner kick for the Hokies, which sophomore Jennifer Harvey (Roanoke, Va.) headed toward the Cougar net, but BYU keeper McKinzie Olson would make the diving save to knock the ball away and preserve the 0-0 stalemate.
Brigham Young recovered from the scare, and in the 38th minute, Kassidy Christensen put the Cougars on top 1-0. Christensen received the ball on the left side in Hokie territory and made a move to the center of the Tech box, rifling a shot to the bottom right of the net past an outstretched Kristin Carden (Virginia Beach, Va.).
The two teams appeared to be evenly matched through the opening half, both taking five shots. The Hokies placed four shots on goal to just one by BYU, but the Cougars would take the 1-0 lead into the intermission.
BYU turned on the offensive intensity in the second half, and threatened early with Jennie Marshall taking two shots, one of which nearly found the corner of the Hokies’ net. The Cougars’ Katie Hodgkiss almost gave BYU a 2-0 lead as well, but Carden blocked her open shot from inside the box.
Brigham Young continued to consistently pressure the Hokie backline, and once again got an open look at the 75:31 mark. This time BYU’s Becca Riddle took the shot from the right side, but Carden again prevented the score.
The Cougars’ constant pressure eventually broke through a couple minutes later when the Tech defense was unable to diffuse another dangerous situation late in the second half. BYU leading scorer Katie Larkin gave her team the 2-0 lead in the 76th minute, placing a shot from inside the Tech box into the top corner of the goal. Alyssa Vander Veur and Riddle were each credited with an assist.
The Hokies gave Brigham Young another scare in the winding minutes, but Tech could not convert a loose ball in the Cougar box into a goal. The BYU defense held strong the rest of the way, advancing the Cougars to the next round.
Despite the loss, Virginia Tech has put together one of the best seasons in program history, coming within one win of the program record 11 victories set in 2004. In addition to making their second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, Tech also picked up the program’s first wins against Duke and Virginia during the regular season, while also knocking off Florida State and Virginia in the ACC Tournament to make the Hokies’ inaugural appearance in the ACC Championship match. Tech also received its first national ranking and received votes in each of the Soccer America, Soccer Buzz and NSCAA/adidas national polls.
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