Benfield stops two in PKs as Spartans advance over Virginia Tech in NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament Second Round
BLACKSBURG, VA – Senior goalkeeper Jay Benfield made a pair of diving saves in penalty kicks to lead UNC Greensboro over No. 12 seed Virginia Tech to advance into the third round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament on Tuesday night at Virginia Tech Soccer Stadium.
The Spartans edged the Hokies by a 4-3 margin in penalty kicks to advance to the round of 16 for the second straight season. The win also marks the first time in the Division I era that UNCG has won two consecutive games in the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans will take on SMU, a 3-0 upset winner over fifth-seeded UCLA late Tuesday night. Game time and site have yet to be determined. The match will either be played Saturday or Sunday.
After both teams made their initial two penalty kicks, Scott Jones gave the Spartans a 3-2 lead, netting UNCG’s third straight shot. Benfield made his first penalty kick save of the evening when he dove to his right to block Greg Roach’s shot. Leading 4-3, Henning Jonason failed to clinch the win for the Spartans as Hokie keeper Chase Harrison made his only penalty kick save. Then with a chance to send the contest into a second penalty kicks session, Benfield made another improbable save, this time denying Marcus Reed with a diving save to the left side of the goal.
“Of course I am very thrilled and proud of the way our team played tonight,” head coach Michael Parker said. “I thought we battled extremely hard in conditions that were obviously not the best game conditions (snow flurries fell throughout the match). I thought we were unfortunate not to be ahead early, but in the end I thought we deserved to win the game.”
The Spartans nearly gained a 1-0 advantage just over three minutes into the game when UNCG produced the game’s first scoring chance. From just behind the midfield line, senior Casey Davis sent a ball to the feet of Mike Richardson into the left corner of the Hokies’ end of the field. Richardson played the ball in front of the Virginia Tech goal where Henning Jonason’s one touch shot sailed just left.
Virginia Tech failed to capitalize on its first realistic scoring opportunity, squandering a shot inside the Spartan box at the 22:57 mark. Defender Chad Steuck dribbled down the right side of the field and sent a service to the opposite side of the field where midfielder Kevin McFadden fired a shot just wide of the Spartan goal.
In a first half where UNCG controlled the majority of the play, the Spartans held a 10-2 shot advantage, including two early shots off the Virginia Tech post. The Spartans also held a 3-1 edge in corner kicks in the opening stanza.
SoCon Player of the Year and Hermann Award finalist Randi Patterson came but inches of giving the Spartans the lead with just under 14 minutes left to play. Richardson played Patterson a though ball just inside the Hokies’ box, but Patterson was deemed offsides, negating the Spartan scoring chance.
With just over 11 minutes remaining in regulation, Bo Lawrence just missed giving Virginia Tech a late 1-0 lead. Following a Spartan foul in the corner, Joshua Boateng sent a free kick into the UNCG box where Lawrence put a clean header directly into the chest of Spartan keeper Jay Benfield.
The second half mirrored play in the first half as the visiting Spartans featured nearly all of the realistic scoring opportunities. UNCG managed eight shots, while limiting the Hokies’ to but three. After the first 90 minutes of action, UNCG held an 18-5 shots edge.
Benfield made two outstanding saves in the first overtime period. The Lewisville, NC native recorded two diving saves in the final two minutes of overtime, ultimately sending the game into a second extra session. Benfield collected another outstanding save with just over two minutes remaining in the second overtime as the senior punched a free kick over the UNCG goal, preserving the scoreless tie and effectively sending the contest into penalty kicks. The shutout was his ninth of the season.
UNC Greensboro (16-5-1) vs. Virginia Tech (10-5-5)
Goals by period 1 2 OT O2 Tot
UNC Greensboro 0 0 0 0 0
Virginia Tech 0 0 0 0 0
SCORING SUMMARY. Shots: UNC Greensboro 21, Virginia Tech 11. Saves: UNC Greensboro 5 (Jay Benfield 5), Virginia Tech 7 (Chase Harrison 7)
UNCG wins 4-3 in penalty kicks
- UNCG -