Virginia Tech capped off another big week in Olympic sports with wins in both men’s and women’s soccer, while the volleyball team won two of its three matches during the Hokie Invite over the weekend.
The third minute of the second overtime approached and a tie seemed all but imminent at that point. Yet, in the dying minutes of the contest, Virginia Tech got its golden chance from exactly the player it wanted to see right in front of the net.
The team’s leading goal scorer from last season, senior Jacob Labovitz, stood inside the six-yard box swarmed by two Virginia defenders.
Graduate transfer Pol Monells drove up the far touchline and crossed the ball to Labovitz, who made contact with a UVa defender, stayed on his feet and jumped up to head the Spanish forward’s pass into the back of the net.
Pandemonium broke out in a record-breaking crowd at Thompson Field on Friday night. Labovitz’s teammates swarmed him as his game-winning goal became his second of the night in then-No. 17 Virginia Tech’s 2-1 win over Virginia.
The win gave the Hokies their first points in ACC play and gave them their first win since Sept. 3 when Tech defeated UCF 2-1 in Raleigh, N.C.
But during the 107’ before Labovitz’s game-winner, the match was back and forth, both teams exchanging chances. Neither team, though, was able to find the back of the net until Kyle McDowell’s free kick found Labovitz’s head in the first minute of the second half for the first goal of the night.
Virginia Tech keeper Ben Martino, who had eight saves throughout the night, let a goal slip past him when UVa’s Asparah Slavov belted a powerful shot into the top of the net from outside the box, tying the score at one in the 58th minute.
Both teams exchanged chances for the rest of the match until Labovitz’s goal in overtime sent everyone at Thompson Field into a frenzy.
For his two goals, Labovitz earned ACC Offensive Player of the Week for the second time in his career.
Tech played for the second time in a week on Tuesday night, getting the better of William & Mary in Williamsburg, 3-2.
The Hokies found themselves trailing the Tribe twice — once in each half — until a Monells goal in the 71st minute broke the 2-2 tie. VT’s other two goals were scored by Camron Lennon in the 13th minute, his first of the season, and Jacob Labovitz in the 61st minute, his fourth of the year.
After falling from No. 6 to No. 17 last week in the United Coaches Soccer Poll, VT moved up to No. 12 on Tuesday.
Up next, Tech hosts Notre Dame on Friday night at Thompson Field, when it celebrates the 50th anniversary of Virginia Tech men’s soccer.
Just minutes after the second half began, and with the match tied at zero, the sky closed up drenched the 1,400 fans in attendance on Saturday night in Blacksburg. Most opted to leave Thompson Field, but those that stayed were able to witness Virginia Tech’s 1-0 win over NC State to open ACC play for the women’s soccer team.
Both were locked in a scoreless battle for more than an hour until midfielder Emily Gray fed a cross behind multiple NC State defenders for Karlie Johnson, who was sitting all alone at the back post. She tapped the ball into the bottom of the net for her first goal in 15 games.
But Tech’s chances started just as the match began.
In the second minute, a Gabbie Johnson cross, which met Tori Powell’s head in front of the net, was steered just wide of goal. Two minutes later, Gray chipped a long cross over to Nicole Kozlova, who found herself one-on-one with Wolfpack goalkeeper Maria Echezarreta. A chance that the Ukrainian international typically makes the most of was not converted, as her shot was too strong and sailed just over the net.
But the rain in the second half that came down in buckets likely ruined each team’s chances at scoring more goals. Coming into Sunday’s matchup, Tech had scored 16 goals in four home games, but was only able to notch a single goal against NC State.
Hokies sophomore goalkeeper Alia Skinner recorded her fourth clean sheet of the season, saving two shots, one each the first and second half.
But in the end, it was enough for Tech’s seventh straight home win, dating back to last October against a ranked Louisville team.
Virginia Tech (7-2, 1-0 ACC) visits No. 4 North Carolina on Thursday, Sept. 23. Kickoff at Dorrance Field in Chapel Hill is scheduled for 7 p.m.
This past weekend, the Virginia Tech volleyball team defeated George Mason, 3-1, and Wofford, 3-0, in the Hokie Invite. In their last invitational game, the Hokies were taken down by North Carolina A&T. Despite the loss, the Hokies finished non-conference play with a 9-3 record.
Sept. 17 vs. George Mason
In 2012, the last time George Mason and Virginia Tech matched up, the Hokies swept the Patriots 3-0.
Tech had the chance to repeat the sweep on Friday but narrowly lost in the third set, 25-23. Nonetheless, Virginia Tech picked up the win with execution on both sides of the floor.
The Hokies out-blocked the Patriots 14-5 and had 11 aces, a season-high, to George Mason’s two. Both junior Logan Mosley and sophomore Brie Postema recorded double-doubles. Mosley had 15 digs and 10 assists and Postema came away with 12 digs and 14 assists.
Sept. 17 vs. Wofford
The momentum of the early afternoon match carried over to the nightcap as the Hokies ran through Wofford, sweeping the Terriers in three sets.
The team dominated in all statistical categories, especially blocks and aces. The Hokies had 13 blocks to Wofford’s four. The duo of senior Angel Robinson and graduate student Tasha Vipond were menacing on the block and currently lead the Hokies in blocks with 53 each on the year.
Sept. 18 vs. North Carolina A&T
Virginia Tech carried the momentum of its two wins the night before into the first two sets on Saturday, but after winning the first two sets, dropped the last three to lose the match in a heartbreaking fashion. The Hokies were on the brink of a sweep, but lost the third set, 25-23. Then it all went downhill for VT as it lost the next two sets by five points or fewer.
It was a tough way to cap off the homestand, but one silver lining remained: the Hokies walked away with two wins from the weekend.
Virginia Tech hosts Clemson on Friday night at 6 p.m. and Georgia Tech at Cassell Coliseum on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. Both matches can be streamed on ACC Network Extra.
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