|School: Virginia Tech|
|Conference: Atlantic Coast|
|Coach: Mike Brizendine – Ninth Season|
|2016 Record: 13-5-2 overall – 3-4-1 in conference|
|Final Season Ending National Rank: Number eight in the NSCAA and CSN polls|
Five Year Win Total:
|Key Losses from the 2016 Team: Defenders Alessandro Mion (4g, 1a) and Juan Pablo Saavedra (0g, 4a) and forward Som Essome (2g, 1a) due to graduation.|
|2016 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed: Thirty-eight scored. Twenty-one allowed.|
|Key 2016 Statistic: Sixteen different Virginia Tech players scored a goal.|
Background: The Hokies had a breakthrough season in 2016 under the direction of Mike Brizendine. Everything seemed to fall into place for Virgina Tech who had a banner 13-5-4 overall record as compared to 5-9-3 overall mark in 2015. The Hokies returned to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the histroy of the program in 2016 and the first since the 2007 season when they played their way into the College Cup lead by forward Patrick Nyarko.
Virginia Tech advanced to the Elite Eight in 2016 with wins over East Tennessee State, number ten seed Charlotte, and number seven seed Indiana before being topped 2-0 by number two seeded Wake Forest.
The Hokies had signature regular season wins last year over Ohio State, South Florida, Georgetown, Delaware, and Duke and ties with Virginia and Charlotte.
Forward Marcelo Acuna was named to the 2016 All-ACC Second Team and was an NSCAA Third Team All-America selection.
Virginia Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004. Prior to that they played in the Big East Conference.
|Number Starters Returning in 2017: Nine|
Offense: Players who scored thrity-one of the thirty-eight goals that Virginia Tech netted last year are slated to return.
Senior Marcelo Acuna who led the Hokies last year with eleven goals including five game-winners will again spearhead the attack in 2017. Acuna hit the ground running last year at Virginia Tech after transferring in from Houston Baptist Univerity where in 2015 he found the back of the net ten times. Acuna was without a doubt an impact player and difference maker at Virginia Tech last year giving the Hokie offense the additional punch on the offensive side of the ball that it had been lacking.
Redshirt junior Gino Rossi (1g, 3a), senior Forest White (1g, 1a) and sophomores Nico Quashie (2g, 0a), Humberto Montero (2g, 0a), Burke Bender (1g, 0a) and James Kasak (1g, 1a) are among other returning players who look to be in the hunt for playing time up top.
Senior Collin Verfurth (2g, 1a) who has three years of starting experience, junior Rory Slevin (1g, 1a) who has been a starter the past two seasons, and sophomore Brendan Moyers (2g, 3a) who was in the starting lineup as a freshman last year provide a solid core of returning midfielders. Sophomore Daniel Damiani (0g, 2a) who appeared in fourteen contests in 2016 also looks to be in the mix for additional minutes in the midfield in 2017.
Defense: Virginia Tech will be without the services of center back Alessandro Mion who was a team captain and four-year starter and right back Juan Pablo Saavedra who was a two-year starter. Their graduation creates a talent, experience, and leadership void that must be assumed by others.
Senior Elias Tamburini (32g, 4a) who was a starter last year after transferring in from Patrick Henry Community College and redshirt sophomore Will Mejia (1g, 0a) who was a starter last year return to give the Hokies a solid necleus upon which to build in the back.
The return of senior Ben Lundgaard who recorded eight shutouts in goal in 2016 with a 0.93 goals against average is a big plus. Lundgaard is a team captain with three years of starting experience under his belt.
Virginia Tech posted a school record nine shutouts last year. Their ability to capably replace backs Mion and Saavedra will have a big impact on whether or not they can equal or better that in 2017.
Coach Brizendine stated, "This year's class has good balance across the board. They play a variety of positions and we've got a good mix of domestic and international players. He added, "Like any class, we wanted to do a good job of finding kids that would blend well with our team chemistry and we did that."
Jan Glasmacher – Defender – Preston, Lancashire, UK – Member of the U-15 German International program. Played for Blackburn Rovers FC.
Svavar Johannsson – Midfielder – Thorlakshofn, Iceland – Fjolbrautaskoli Suourlands- Played for UMF Selfoss. Played for Icleand U-17 and U-19 National Teams.
Justis Kauppinen – Forward – Mantsala, Finland – Lahden Lyseo – Played for Finland's U-15, U-16, U-18, and U-19 National Teams. Played for FC Lahti Academy.
Hayden Kickbush – Goalkeeper – Arlington, Virginia – Yorktown High School – Second Team All-District. All-Metropolitan Area. All-Region. Played for the Arlington Soccer Association.
Emil Koho – Espoo, Finland – Midfielder – Leppavaara Sports High School – Played for FC Espoo men's first team.
Camron Lennon – Midfielder – Austin, Texas – Westwood High School – Played for Lonestar SC Academy Team. All-District selection.
Robert McCoy – Midfielder – Tarpon Springs – East Lake HIgh School – Played for Chargers SC.
Gregor von Westphalen – Forward – Bad Homburg, Germany – Kaiserin-Friedrich Gymnasium – Played for FSV Frankfurt.
Jon Ingason – Defender – Iceland – Played with IBV in the Icelandic premier league. Member of U-19 Iceland National Team.
Prognosis for 2017: Virginia Tech had showed signs of potential at times in past seasons under Mike Brizendine but it was not until the 2016 that everything seemed to ball into place. The Hokie offense was enlivened last year with the addition of transfer Marcelo Acuna who gave the Hokies big play ability on the offensive side of the ball.
With nine starters slated to return to Blacksburg in 2017 including Acuna, there are ample reasons for excitement and optimism heading into the season. .
The Hokies will return a lot of talent up-top and in the midfield. The departure of backs Alessandro Mion and Juan Pablo Saavedra does create a void in the defense that must be filed. However with defenders Elias Tamburini and Will Mejia returning along with Ben Lundgaard in goal a solid necleus exists upon which to reload.
Brizendine's efforts on the recruiting trail are beginning to pay off as Virginia Tech is bringing on board more players with ACC-ready talent. This has resulted in a stronger lineup from top to bottom and an increase in depth which is a big plus. Defender Jon Ingason and forwards Gregor Von Westphalen and Justis Kauppinen are among the newcomers who could make an immediate contribution.
The Hokies will again play a very competitive schedule which means that their margin for error particularly in conference play will be small. The first and perhaps biggest task heading into the 2017 season looks to be successfully filling the void that exists on the defensive side of the ball due to the departure of Mion and Saavedra. Another critical success factor is whether the sophomores like Nico Quashie, Brendan Moyers Daniel Damiani, Burke Bender, and James Kasak get tthe desired bump in the level of their play after having a season of play under their belts.
The ability of the coaching staff to effectively merge together the individual talents of the players into a unitifed and focused team will also be a key factor. This particularly relates to merging the newcomers in with the returning players. Acuna will again be a heavily marked man up-top so include a multi-dimensional and balanced attack as another critical success factor for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech was among the feel good teams in the ACC as well as on the national scene last year improving from five wins in 2015 to thriteen wins in 2016. They return a lot of talent and experience, they will have momentum, and they look to have the depth needed to be able to continue where they left off last year.
However, the Hokies will enter the 2017 season as a ranked team with the added challenge of having a big target on their chests which means that no one will look past them. A good start in 2017 would be a big boost and would likely set the pace for another successful season in Blacksburg.