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Men's Soccer Ties Despite Double Overtime

By Debbie Ballard

September 18, 2010

Despite entering double over time against Clemson University last night, the Virginia Tech men's soccer team was unable to break the 1-1 stalemate that gripped Thompson Field last night.

A goal late in the first half from Clemson midfielder Riley Sumpter negated Clarke Bentley's 19th minute penalty kick that gave the Hokies a shaky early lead.

While Virginia Tech played well both offensively and defensively, some major mistakes on defense exposed the obvious youth of the team.

"Here's the deal. When you have so many freshmen, you're going to have inconsistencies," head coach Mike Brizendine said. "It's going to be a constant roller coaster."

Those inconsistencies appeared yesterday, with the young Hokie offense unable to capitalize on several wide-open shots on goal.

The Hokies registered 17 shots on goal, but only Bentley's penalty kick made it past Clemson goalie Cody Mizell.

One might attribute the inexperience on the Virginia Tech bench to the shaky start to this season, as the roster is filled with true freshmen just beginning their college careers.

Of the 32 players on Brizendine's roster, 13 are true freshmen. Four of those freshmen were named in the starting lineup against Clemson.

"It's definitely a big transition from high school and club to college and five games in I think some of them are starting to get it," Bentley said.

Indeed, throughout the game the Hokies showed signs of improvement- passing accuracy, shots on goal, and general awareness off the ball improved, but Brizendine is prepared for the "rollercoaster" of a season the men's team has ahead of them.

"I'm happy with their progress," Brizendine said, speaking about the freshmen on the roster. "There's going to be inconsistencies- I know that, everyone knows that, but I'm very pleased with the quality that we have. I'm excited that's the foundation for my future."

While a tie in their ACC opener against a team that, before their meeting with the Hokies, was 0-2, the Hokies showed they have what it takes to produce a winning season.

The 17 shots on goal show that Virginia Tech has the drive to win, and the skill to consistently be within shooting range of its opponents.

Eventually, with practice and exposure for the freshmen, those shots on goal will convert into goals and, ideally, a winning season- which is Bentley's main goal for the young team.

"The only goal I really have is to be above .500," Bentley said. "If we can attempt and come close to or hopefully fulfill being .500 or better then to me that's a huge accomplishment."

Virginia Tech's last winning season came in 2007 when the Hokies reached the Final Four in the NCAA tournament led by forward Patrick Nyarko.

While the Hokies can't count on appearing in Santa Barbara, CA this year, a winning record is possible.

The Hokies go on the road to take on Davidson College this Tuesday.