Hokies wrap up fall semester

BLACKSBURG – The 2017 women’s soccer season is now just a memory, and the student-athletes are done except for the completing of their fall final exams. However, in just under four weeks, the squad will return to campus for the spring semester, and in late January, the team will meet for the first time to begin its preparations for the 2018 season.

Before that, though, let’s wrap up the fall semester, which includes reflection from Tech women’s soccer head coach Chugger Adair.

Five Hokies depart after the season, including Kallie Peurifoy, who graduates this week
The Hokies will lose five off their roster to graduation – Madi Conyers, Alani Johnson, Kari Johnston, Kallie Peurifoy and Michelle White. However, Peurifoy, the Charleston, South Carolina native, is the only one who will be walking across the stage during Tech’s December graduation Thursday.

In what she thought would be her final season, Peurifoy played in a pair of games in 2016 before being sidelined for the rest of the year with a stress fracture in her right foot. The redshirt senior could have finished up her degree in environmental science and graduated in May with her original class, but decided to stay and play one more season.

“I definitely didn’t want to end the way it did last fall,” Peurifoy said. “I love soccer enough to where just getting to play an extra season was worth it, no matter if we made the NCAA Tournament this year or not.”

She started each of the Hokies’ 18 games during the 2017 season and tallied the only game-winning goal of her career when she put the ball in the back of the net on a free kick in the 85th minute against William & Mary in a 1-0 victory. She added a pair assists during the year and finished her Tech career with 38 starts, three goals and 10 assists.

“I think it’s been great for the program to have Kallie part of it,” Adair said. “She’s been a tremendous person and someone who’s been committed and a good member of the program during her time.

“She put her life on hold and went an extra semester just to be a part of the program after having a tough year when she was injured and couldn’t play. She just wanted to have an impact and finish her career on a positive note. She had a very good season, and we’re really going to miss her as a person and a player, and we wish her luck in the next phase of her life.”

Check back on Wednesday for more information on Peurifoy’s future plans in a short feature story.

Hokies fall short of NCAA postseason berth for second straight season
From 2008-15, the Tech women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA tournament eight straight seasons, which included playing in the Sweet 16 four times and a making a College Cup appearance in 2013. However, the past two seasons, the Hokies have not heard their name called on selection Monday.

The team was a bit baffled after posting an 11-5-3 mark and an RPI of 38 during the 2016 season and not earning a selection. This past season, despite the 7-6-5 record, the Hokies beat a team in the top 25 of the RPI– at Notre Dame (17) and tied another one vs. Pepperdine (20) in San Diego. The Hokies also did not lose a game to a team that finished with an RPI of 32 or worse, as they went 1-6-2 against programs inside the top 50 – all of whom made the NCAA tournament.

“The first thing we have to look at is we have to be accountable for ourselves. Were there results we could have done better with?” Adair said. “Yes, there were. There were two or three different games that we would want back at least to help build that resume and get a few more wins, a couple less ties, a loss here or there, for sure, that is something that we would like to do.

“You have to be able to control what you control with your own wins and losses, and that’s what you have to be accountable with the group and with the team and what we can do. I just look at the last two years, and it hurts a little bit. I feel for the student-athletes who are trying to get to this tournament.”

Tech needs to get healthy in 2018
More than a handful of players for the Hokies who Adair was expecting to be key contributors for the team during the 2017 season were lost for the season because of different injuries.

“It was one of our more injury-plagued seasons. I think a lot of injuries occurred last season and in the spring, and a lot of those things were out of our control as far as those injuries,” Adair said. “It was a challenging year as far as that. Our depth was definitely challenged as a group. We did a very good job with just moving forward and being as prepared as we could be for each game.”

A couple of returners were lost for the season in Laila Gray and Megan Goudy. In her first three seasons, Gray started in 38 games and contributed 10 goals and nine assists, which included a seven-goal year in 2015. Goudy was a talented defender for the Hokies and started 19 of 23 games played for the Hokies in two seasons, adding three career assists.

“Laila Gray wasn’t able to come back and get cleared to play, and as a forward, we missed her creativity up top, for sure,” Adair said. “And Megan Goudy was another one that decided not to play after having multiple knee injuries, so we missed her. She’d been a huge impact for our defending line and really worked to earn a starting spot. So missing some of those athletes on the field and those personalities that they would have brought to our culture. It was a difficult year for us, as far as that goes.”

Freshmen Kara Henderson and Olivia Odle were also out for the entire season, as was sophomore Jess Boytim. Adair is looking to get all of them back to full health for next season.

Finishing scoring chances a must for next year
The 2017 Hokies struggled to put the ball in the back of the net. That’s evident by their 16 goals scored – the fewest scored by the team since joining the ACC – but it wasn’t due to a lack of chances.

During the season, Tech outshot its opponents 242-186 and that included a 108-94 edge in shots on goal. However, the save percentage by the goalkeepers the Hokies faced was an astonishing 85.2 percent, the highest during the past 12-year span.

Tech will lose its top goal scorer in Johnson, who tallied 20 career goals entering her senior campaign, but was limited to just four during the year. Freshman Allyson Brown and sophomore Jordan Hemmen are the only other Hokies to notch more than one goal during the season, tallying three and two, respectively, while sophomore Mikayla Mance tied two others for the team-lead with two assists (Conyers and Peurifoy), but she is the only returner.

“We were a little bit more conservative this past season in our tactical aspect of the game, and that effected our ability to score goals. Getting numbers and quality numbers forward was something we were challenged with all year,” Adair said. “We were in a lot of 0-0, 1-0 games, and that was challenging. We did create enough chances in a number of games to score goals. We just didn’t stick those away.

“But moving forward, in our returning group, we’ve got Mikayla Mance coming back. She’ll be very dangerous up top for us. We’ve also got Bridget Patch, another forward, and Allyson Brown, who had a really good start to goal scoring in the non-conference season. There is also Kristina Diana. She’s been an attacking threat throughout her career. She’ll be a senior with some good experience.”

McGlynn, defense prove mettle in difficult season
As previously stated, the Hokies outshot their opponents throughout the season, but many of those chances did not find the back of the net. Tech was locked into many defensive battles for most of the game, and the backline held strong as long as it could.

Behind them in goal was sophomore Mandy McGlynn, who tallied seven shutouts during the season, while as a team, Tech had eight. The seven individual shutouts tied for the second-most ever at the school, while McGlynn’s 1.03 goals allowed average was the sixth-best in a single season at Tech.

“I think the group did a pretty good job of playing as a team, defending, not just the defenders and Mandy in charge of keeping a shutout or keeping a clean sheet,” Adair said. “I think the group did a good job, but there were times that we got worn down in some of our ACC games. Playing against some of the top teams in the nation, some really strong teams, we got worn down at times, and we’d be bending or got broke later in games.

“When looking back at the stats, that’s where we had some challenges and that could be a little bit of a depth issue that we had and required some of the kids to play some significant minutes without getting breaks.”

A quick look at the stats does back up Adair’s claims. The Hokies surrendered 15 goals during the ACC season, a total of nine matches, and they surrendered just three during the first half. In fact, only Tennessee scored more than one goal in the first half against the Hokies, as they allowed just 20 goals all season – tied for the second-fewest in a season since joining the ACC in 2005.

“We put ourselves in some more challenging situations because of some conservative play and trying to protect the goal a little bit,” Adair said. “Only giving up 20 goals is a pretty good year, but we didn’t translate that once we got possession. I think a lot of the defending and clean sheets would have occurred more often if we were better at keeping the ball than we were this year.

“In the past, we’ve been a bit stronger at that possession-style, which allows us to create our own tempo and maybe get some more numbers forward to help with the goal scoring. So we’ll be working on that in the offseason as well.”

Spring semester starts in just a little more than a month
The spring will see Tech start weight training and speed work in late January before getting out on the field. In early February, Adair will announce his newest Hokies, as part of National Signing Day, and beginning in mid-March and finishing in late April, the team will play up to five dates as part of its spring semester schedule. Stay tuned to Hokiesports.com for both of those announcements.

“The first thing is getting the kids back and healthy to play and get them integrated back into the group because they are ready to go,” Adair said in regards to his spring plans. “Also, we want to make sure the group is fit, as we move into the spring season. We need to put ourselves into a situation where we’re working on the style of play and the tactical play. We’ll also need to develop some of the individual positions, work on keeping the ball and possessions, and also work on creating chances and taking chances.”

For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter

HokieSports Shop