Virginia Tech women’s soccer failed to avenge last year’s NCAA Tournament loss to Ohio State on Thursday night, as the Buckeyes stole a 2-1 victory over the Hokies.
Tech practically dominated on the field, outshooting Ohio State 23-9. The No. 16 Hokies just couldn’t finish in the box, and thanks to some back-line mistakes, the Hokies found themselves chasing the Buckeyes all game long.
“It was the same problem the last time we played them,” said Murielle Tiernan. “We outshot them 21-5 and we lost 1-0. This time, we outshoot them 23-9 and lose 2-1. It’s stupid mistakes in the back, giving them easy goals and us hitting it straight at the goalie, not being able to hit it hard enough, not getting on frame, not getting our headers down, it’s just that finishing edge we need from everyone in the box. We need to be more aggressive. Everyone has to want to score. We just need to work on that.”
Virginia Tech started hot on offense with two shots in the first five minutes by Laila Gray. The Hokies continued to pressure Ohio State, registering eight shots in the first 32 minutes.
Ohio State broke through in the 33rd minute on a big mistake from the back line. Lindsay Agnew got past the defense and drove home a goal past Mandy McGylnn, who never had a chance.
Virginia Tech rattled off three shots in the final minutes of the first half, but couldn’t get anything to go and trailed 1-0 at the intermission.
Another back line error by the Hokies gave Ohio State another easy, breakaway goal in the 57th minute.
“I told the girls, we’re going to continue to struggle if we keep giving up easy goals,” head coach Chugger Adair said. “Those are mistakes on our part. We had a chance to solve both goals and we didn’t do a good job of that.”
Tiernan got Tech back within one with a nifty move in the box in the 63rd minute. Alia Abu El Hawa was credited with the assist.
“I just felt her on my back, she was giving me the end line, so I just spun her, then she was riding me the whole way in. I was trying to see where the goalie was, to see if I should lay it off or shoot it. The goalie kind of stepped for the cross, so I honestly toe-poked it.”
The Hokies continued to pressure Ohio State in the second half, getting six second half corner kicks and 12 shots off. None of them would hit the back of the net, as Virginia Tech kept struggling to finish in the box.
“It can be a little bit of a streaky-type of thing,” Adair said. “Things are falling for you, then things aren’t. You’ve just got to keep plugging along with it. Murielle worked hard tonight to get the goal that she scored, Alani (Johnson) has been finding the back of the net lately and didn’t get as many chances tonight. That’s a little frustrating, but it just didn’t happen for her tonight.”
Despite the loss, Adair was pleased with his team’s effort and aggressiveness, especially in the second half.
“We put a little pressure on them definitely,” Adair said. “I think 23 shots was solid. I told the girls we deserve more. We’re a little bit off on our finishing, maybe with our timing, the final ball and our movement in the box is a little bit off. They also had a good gameplan. They sat in, defended, essentially in front of their goal and they made it difficult for us to play. It’s difficult in there with a lot of numbers to get those chances and put those chances away.”
After the game, Tiernan, who scored her second goal of the season, said that Virginia Tech needs to learn from this game and bounce back strong on Sunday vs. William and Mary.
“We need to clean up the back, we need to clean up in the box,” Tiernan said. “Our soccer isn’t bad, we’re playing fine soccer, it’s our finishing and silly defensive errors.”