Men's soccer to host Virginia Tech in first game of NCAA tournament
The men’s soccer team will face off against Virginia Tech in the second round of the NCAA Tournament today at 1 p.m. at DeMartin Stadium.
After beating Air Force in the first round, the Hokies are now 10-9 on the season in a competitive ACC, which has six teams in the top 25 of the United Soccer Coaches poll.
“I think all the records are out the window,” head coach Damon Rensing said. “Every game we play in the Big Ten, we assume is going to be a 2-1 game, probably similar in the ACC. We just hope that we have the two.”
The Spartans will have their work cut our for them with All-ACC First Team goalkeeper Ben Lungaard in net for Virginia Tech. On offense, Virginia Tech has forward Marcelo Acuna, who’s tied at 15th in the NCAA with 12 goals. The Hokies have gotten wins in three of their last four games, shutting out their opponents in all three wins.
“It’s going to be good for us to try and break them down and use the things that we’ve been doing the past two weeks of training, and focusing on attacking pieces and offensive restarts things like that, to hopefully put a goal away early,” forward Michael Marcantognini said. “Then, just stick with our defensive principles and hopefully come away with a win.”
With nothing put practices the last two weeks, the Spartans have built up some nervous and anxiety that could have been released in a first round game, or with a deeper run in the Big Ten Tournament.
“I think there’s always a little bit of nerves in that first game and Virginia Tech got to get those nerves out of their system,” Rensing said. “We’ll have to get the kinks out, since it’s been two weeks since we’ve played. But on the other side of that we should be pretty fresh, trying get healthy and be ready to go.”
Fresh, and making sure the Spartans focus on themselves and participate in team bonding activities, is what Marcantognini said they’ve been doing since their 2-1 loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals.
“It’s been really good, as a team, to get back to where we started in the beginning of the season and prepare for this first game,” Marcantognini said. “Everything is focus towards that now.”