No. 6 men’s soccer headed south to Blacksburg to face in-state rival No. 25 Virginia Tech Friday night. The Cavaliers (13-1-1, 5-1-1 ACC) defeated the Hokies (7-4-2, 1-4-2 ACC) 2-0 for Virginia’s 41st win — out of 50 matches — against Virginia Tech.
The Hokies started the game firing on all cylinders as they had consecutive corner kicks in the third and fourth minutes. However, Virginia Tech’s first real scoring opportunity came in the eighth minute, where a shot by senior forward James Kasak was saved by Virginia junior goalkeeper Colin Shutler.
The Cavaliers had to wait until the 20th minute to test Virginia Tech junior goalkeeper Mathijs Swaneveld. Sophomore forward Daniel Steedman — who has two goals on the season — finally put a shot on goal for Virginia. Nevertheless, Swaneveld was up to the challenge, denying Steedman.
However, in the 33rd minute, Virginia finally found a break. Sophomore forward Daryl Dike switched the field with a long pass to junior forward Nathaniel Crofts right outside the 18-yard box. Crofts cut the ball inside to gain a little bit of space from redshirt freshman defender Nathan Durst, and curled a right-footed shot into the top-right corner past Swaneveld — putting the Cavaliers up 1-0.
After Crofts’ goal, the Hokies immediately tried to find an answer, but a shot by freshman midfielder Daniel Pereira was saved by Shutler.
To start the second-half, Virginia looked for some insurance to pad its lead, as junior midfielder Joe Bell had a shot saved by Swaneveld in the 52nd minute as the New Zealand native attempted to tally his third goal of the season.
Nonetheless, three minutes later, Dike found the Cavaliers’ next goal, as he converted a low-cross from Crofts inside the six-yard box. This marked Dike’s sixth goal of the season as he continues to be Virginia’s top goal-scorer.
As the match neared its end, Virginia Tech continued to press as the Hokies looked for a crack in Virginia’s rock-solid defense. Unfortunately for the home team, Shutler saved everything the Hokies threw at him.
Shutler was once again outstanding for the Cavaliers, posting five saves for an NCAA-leading 12th shutout of the season. If the Cavaliers can maintain their strength in goal and at the back as the ACC and NCAA tournaments near, a conference and national title are both firmly within reach.
Virginia concludes the regular season at home against No. 21 North Carolina Friday, Nov. 1. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the match will be broadcast live on ACC Network Extra.