The lacrosse program looked like one of the more promising squads at Virginia Tech entering this season. After making it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year, the Hokies were ranked entering 2019 and looked to have all the talent necessary to succeed. However, the team has struggled against high level opponents and currently sits at 8-7 on the year. All seven of those losses came against teams currently ranked in the top twenty of the Inside Lacrosse Poll. There isn’t a bad loss on the Hokies’ resume right now, but they only have one win against a ranked team.
“We’re pretty young. I feel like the play has been what you would see from a team full of freshman and sophomores,” Head Coach John Sung said. “I think it’s just one of those things where it’s kind of a learning year, which stinks, but we’re still in the hunt. I think we’re just not getting the same results we were last year.”
The team is 1-4 in conference play, putting them in second-to-last place in the ACC with just two games to go. A large reason for the struggles in the ACC has been how talented the conference is this year. The Hokies’ last three games were against #5 North Carolina, #3 Syracuse, and #4 Notre Dame. Their only win in conference play is a one-goal victory over Louisville, who is winless in the ACC.
“We’ve made a lot of mistakes in these ranked games,” Sung said. “We’ve played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and I wanted them to be ready for this time of year. We’re playing a ninth ranked opponent this weekend, and we’ll finish our season playing ranked opponents. You have to find a way to win.”
Although the results haven’t come for the team this year, the experience is valuable. Tech’s schedule has 17 games this season, and ten of them are against ranked teams. Playing against top-tier talent will only help this young Hokies team as the program grows.
“[Playing against elite teams] has shown the girls that you can’t win games on gameday, you win them in how you prepare,” Sung said. “I think they’re starting to realize that you can’t take a game for granted and say, ‘We’ll just get the next game.’ They’re all starting to realize that.”
The schedule won’t get any easier going forward, as the Hokies will welcome #1 Boston College to Blacksburg on Saturday at noon in Thompson Field for Senior Day. The Eagles enter Saturday’s match with a perfect 14-0 record, including eight wins over ranked opponents. They’ve defeated every other team in the top seven of the Inside Lacrosse Rankings, with the only exception being #2 Maryland. However, the Hokies have played well against Boston College in each of Sung’s first two years at the helm.
“I like the Boston College matchup. My first year here, we beat them, and that was the year they kind of turned it on,” Sung said. “Then, last year, we were the only team to hold them under ten goals and we were right in it until the end, so I like the matchup as crazy as that may sound.”
The Hokies may have underperformed throughout the season, but they aren’t dead yet. They’ve only lost to ranked opponents, and one statement win would go a long way toward making their case for a tournament bid once again. It won’t be easy, but the opportunity is there on Saturday to knock off the top team in the nation and prove that Virginia Tech is an emerging elite program.
“Boston College doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, they’re battle tested, so we have to kind of muddy the water up. The sloppier the game the better,” Sung said. “Everything has to line up right. If we can get some nasty weather, get into their heads, be tough and gritty, and play our type of lacrosse, we’ll have a shot.”