GREENSBORO, NC – Senior Scott Jones connected on a free kick in the last 30 seconds to give UNC Greensboro the 2-1 victory over Virginia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament at the UNCG Soccer Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The two teams are no strangers to each other in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the Spartans advanced in penalty kicks after the teams played to a scoreless tie in Blacksburg.
After an evenly played, scoreless first half, it looked as if the second stanza would finish the same. However, that changed in the 58th minute when Virginia Tech grabbed the lead. After receiving a pass from Chad Steuck, sophomore Patrick Nyarko drew Spartan keeper Nate Berry out of the goal and took the shot on the open net for his team-leading 16th goal of the year.
The Spartans didn’t have an answer until 20 minutes later when Jones intercepted a Hokies’ defensive clear. The Dallas, TX native than maneuvered through a pair of Virginia Tech defenders and found an open Thomas Campbell, who corralled the pass in the box. Campbell turned and fired a shot that tied the game up with only 12 minutes remaining in regulation. The goal was Campbell’s seventh on the season.
Just like in the first, both teams played an even second half and it seemed as if overtime was inevitable. However, with 34 seconds remaining, Steuck fouled an UNCG player just outside the 18-foot box to give the Spartans a free kick. Jones lined the ball up quickly for UNCG and blasted a shot to the lower left corner, which caught the unprepared Hokie defense by surprise and produced the game-winner for the Spartans.
“In soccer, you organize them, train them and coach them. But in the end, it’s about the players’ decisions. That is just soccer smarts,” said head coach Michael Parker on the Spartans’ final goal.
UNCG outshot Virginia Tech 15-10 and both teams finished with six corner kicks a piece. Berry tallied four saves for the Spartans and Hokies keeper Drew Czekanski collected seven saves.
This is the third straight year the Spartans have advanced in the tournament. UNCG will take on the sixth-seeded West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown, WV on Wednesday evening at 6 pm. West Virginia was the BIG EAST regular season champions but lost to St. John’s in the conference tournament championship.
“I like our chances against West Virginia but they’ve had a very good season,” stated Parker. “We respect them and it will be a difficult game. But if we continue with the mental preparation of the game like we have lately, we’ll be fine.”
The Spartans improve to 15-7-1 on the year, while the Hokies close out the season with a record of 11-8-1.
Virginia Tech....... 0 1 - 1
UNC Greensboro...... 0 2 - 2
SCORING SUMMARY: VT Nyarko (16) (Steuck), 57:20; UNCG Campbell (7) (Jones), 77:46; UNCG Jones (6) (unassisted). Shots: Virginia Tech 10, UNC Greensboro 15. Saves: Virginia Tech 7 (Czekanski 7), UNC Greensboro 4 (Berry 4). Corner kicks: Virginia Tech 6, UNC Greensboro 6. Fouls: Virginia Tech 13, UNC Greensboro 15.
- UNCG -