Explosive Second Half Propels Virginia Tech Men’s Soccer Past No. 1 Marshall, The Defending National Champions

Sivert Haugli celebrates his goal off a header vs. No. 1 Marshall, his first of two goals on Sunday. (Will Copeland)

No. 1 Marshall got off to a fast start on Sunday against No. 15 Virginia Tech with two quick goals. The Hokies didn’t fold, however; they regathered themselves and strung together an impressive comeback, winning 3-2 in Harrisonburg.

“Grit is the Virginia Tech way,” Virginia Tech head coach Mike Brizendine said. “I wanted to see it and that’s what I was happy about today, that we saw that grit, that we can compete and that we want to win.”

The Thundering Herd (1-1-0) put two shots in the back of the net in the first 20 minutes, courtesy of Vitor Dias and Vinicius Fernandes. Despite leading the first half in shots, 7-5, Virginia Tech (1-0-1) couldn’t finish.

That all changed after halftime when the Hokies’ attack exploded in the 64th minute.

Danny Flores curled a corner into the box that found the head of center back Sivert Haugli, giving the Hokies a slice of the momentum. Two minutes later, Tech was awarded a penalty kick after the ball struck the hand of Marshall defender Collin Mocyunas. Haugli, Tech’s normal penalty taker, stepped up to the mark and placed it in the bottom right corner.

“He [Haugli] is a winner,” Brizendine said. “He’s been in these situations before, he’s been at Oregon State, we’ve played championship games with him. He’s my steady yeti, and I like it because when we need someone to kick them in the pants, it’s not just coming from us, he senses it, at this point in his leadership, and he’ll get the guys going.”

Haugli’s experienced paid off, drawing the Hokies level with the defending National Champions with 20 minutes to play.

Tech’s golden opportunity arrived in the 73rd minute. An inswinging corner kick deflected off the hand of Marshall defender Max Schneider before Tech’s Welnilton Da Silva Jr. put the ball in the top shelf. However, the referee called the hand ball before the goal, so the Hokies were awarded a penalty kick and Schneider was issued a yellow card.

This time, Nick Blacklock placed the ball down on the spot. The junior calmly passed the ball straight down the middle for Virginia Tech’s third goal and the eventual game-winner.

“I was confident stepping up to take it,” Blacklock said. “I’ve been in that situation many times in the tournament during the Sweet 16 and if you’re not confident, you’re not going to score it.”

The Hokies held onto the one-goal lead for the final 15 minutes through a chippy and intense battle at Sentara Park. Marshall’s Joao Souza was shown straight red in the 83rd minute due to fighting after he threw an elbow, and three more yellows were shown in the final eight minutes.

Despite the Thundering Herd throwing the kitchen sink at Tech in the late stages of the match, the Hokies didn’t budge. It was a hearty celebration once the whistle blew, which gave Virginia Tech its first win over the No. 1 team in the country since knocking off Notre Dame at Thompson Field on Sept. 22, 2017.

“We gave up two goals, but I didn’t think we were under,” Brizendine said. “The difference is that [Marshall] is a savvy group who capitalized on our mistakes, and we didn’t capitalize on theirs. I knew we couldn’t give up another goal and I knew we needed everybody; we needed a team effort.”

Brizendine got exactly that. Virginia Tech rotated through 16 different field players, all who played at least 15 minutes. The back line of Haugli, Da Silva Jr., Camron Joice and Kyle McDowell all went the full 90, and Ben Martino was huge in goal, coming up with four saves.

“Our goalkeeping is really, really good. It’s difficult for those guys, him, [Matt] Zambetti, Connor Jordan-Hyde are all pushing the envelope, which is making all of them better.”

The schedule doesn’t get any easier from the Hokies, as they travel to Raleigh to face No. 13 UCF and No. 10 Seton Hall this upcoming weekend. Tech has a chip on its shoulder from getting bounced from the Sweet 16 by the Pirates in the spring, and Jacob Labovitz, who missed Sunday’s game due to a red card suspension from the spring, will be back with the team.

“This is a huge result for us,” Haugli said. “We didn’t start the season the way we wanted against Kansas City (a 2-2 draw), so this kind of makes up for it. It shows that we can win big games like this.”

16 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Sounds like an incredible match, always fun to make the other guys lose their cool. Excited to follow the team this season!

  2. Wow. I guess Huntington WVA doesn’t seem so bad to folks from the rest of the world. I don’t get it. I suppose Huntington could pose as the capital of Abadplaceastan, lol. Seriously how the heck is Marshall the D1 top dog?

    1. Exactly my thoughts too. I suppose soccer is Nothing like BB or FB because if it is then Marshall must have the best facilities and highest paid coaches, right?

  3. Damn – even Marshall has a National Championship … will I ever see one for VT in my lifetime?

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