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Virginia Tech 2018 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School:  Virginia Tech
Conference:  Atlantic Coast
Coach:  Mike Brizendine – Tenth Season 
2017 Record:  10-10-0 overall – 3-5-0 in conference play   
2017 Final Season Ending Rank:  N/A
Key Personnel Losses from the 2017 Team:  Forward Marcelo Acuna, midfielders Colin Verfurth, Forrest White, defenders Rodrigo Zampieri, Elias Tamburini,  goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard due to graduation.  

Five Year Win Total:

2013 –  4

2014 –  7

2015 –  5

2016 –  13

2017 –  10

2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed:  24 scored – 34 allowed  
2017 Goals Scored and Goals Allowed Per Game:  1.20 scored – 1.70 allowed 
2017 Key Statistic:  Consecutive double digit win seasons and consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006-2007 seasons. 

Background:  Virginia Tech has earned a berth in the NCAA Tournament six times including the 2016 and 2017 seasons.  The Hokies advanced to the Elite Eight in 2016 and in 2017 they topped Air Force in the first round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to number seven seed Michigan State in the second round.  Virginia Tech became a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2004.  They played in the Big East Conference from 2001 through 2003. 

Forward Marcelo Acuna and goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard received numerous accolades for their performance in 2017.  Both were selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-East Region Team and were First-Team All-ACC selections.  Lundgaard also became the program's second First Round MLS selection as the twenty-first pick  by Columbus SC.  

Number Starters Slated to Return in 2018:  Five 


Coach Brizendine stated, "I'm very pleased with the group of yound men who committed to our program.  Our recruiting philosophy hear at Virginia Tech is to start with Virginia and work our way out from there. Our coaching staff worked hard to get some of the top kids in the state of Virginia.  We were also able to get a good blend of experienced players"  Brizendine added, "Filling in the void of ten graduating seniors will be a challenge, but we are looking forward to seeing the immediate impact that our new players will have on our program."

Esteban Gonzales Rivera – Defender – San Jose, Costa Rica – Yorkin School – Riveria is a tranfer from Universidad Hispaoamericana.  He had competed with the Costa Rican youth national teams. He played for Deportivo Saprissa and Club Sport Uruguay. 

David Sanz – Midfielder – Santander, Spain – IES La Marina High – Junior transfer from the University of Cincinnati where he scored six goals and contributed five assists in 2017.  He was named to the 2017 All-American Conference Second Team. He competed for Real Racing de Santander in Spain. 

Nikal Clarke – Defender – Brampton, Ontario – St. Edmund Campion – Junior transfer from Louisburg Junior College where he was a First-Team All-American. 

Mathjis Swaneveld – Goalkeeper – Schoonhoven, The Netherlands – Schoonhovenscollege – Played for CVV de Jodan Boys.  Transfer from Hogeschool Rotterdam University.

Chris Little – Midfielder – Ashburn, Virginia – Briar Woods High School – Played for Loudon Soccer Club. All-Conference selection.  

David Alm – Defender – Saltsjoe-boo, Sweden – Nacka Gymnasium – Playe with Hammarby IF. 

Sivert Haugli – Defender – Oslo, Norway – Norges Toppidrettsgymnas – Played for Baerum SK.  

Kahlil Dover – Forward – Reston, Virginia – South Lakes High School – Played for the Braddock Road Youth Club.  All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2017.  Played with the Virginia State ODP team.  

Connor Jordan-Hyde – Goalkeeper – Leawood, Kansas – The Pembroke Hill School – Played with Sporting Kansas City Academy.  Played for both the Virginia and Kansas ODP programs.  Played with Western Albemarle High School before moving ot Kansas. 

Nathan Durst – Midfiedler – Loudon, Virgina – Rock Ridge High School – All-Conference selection. Played for Loudon Soccer Club. 

Vincent Jackson – Forward – Southfield, Michigan – Wylie E. Groves High School – Played with the Michigan Wolves Soccer Club.  Played on Michgan ODP team.  

Outlook for 2018 Season:  

There is a lot to like about the direction of the Virginia Tech program.  The Hokies have a lot going for them after back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament.  However, they will enter the 2018 season with an unsettled situation on the offensive side of the ball in large part due to the graduation of forward Marcelo Acune who was a difference maker.  Acune's impact is reflected in the twenty-three goals and ten game-winners he contributed during his two-year tenure in Blacksburg. 

Life without Acune will mean that the Hokie attack will have a different look in 2018 and that they will have to get things done in a different way.  Sophomores  Kristo Strickler (3g, 1a), Justin Kauppinen (2g, 0a) and Camron Lennon and junior Nico Quashie are among returning players who Virginia Tech will likely look to for offensive productivity up-top in 2018.  Juniors James Kasak (1g, 0a) and Humberto Montero (0g, 1a) and redshirt sophomore Gaetan Roux (1g, 1a) are among other returning players who look to be in the mix.  

The Hokie’s will also be without the services of midfielder Collin Verfurth (4g 0a) who was a four-year starter and team catalyst.  The good news is that a solid nucleus of linkmen return including senior Rory Slevin (0g, 3a), junior Brendan Moyers (1g, 1a) and sophomore Emil Koho (0g, 1a) who were starters last year.  Sophomore Camron Lennon who saw action in fourteen contests last year is among other returning players who will seek to play a greater role in 2018.  Junior midfielder David Sanz who transfers in from the University of Cincinnati is among the members of the eleven member recruiting class who is likely to make an immediate impact.  The ability of the midfielders to add additional punch to the attack is a key in regard to filling the void that exists due to the loss of Acune and Verfurth.  

Sophomore Jon Ingason (0g, 1a) and redshirt junior Will Mejia are among what looks to be a very solid backline.  Sophomore Jakob Bluemier is among other returning players who will be in the hunt for playing time in the back.  Junior transfer Nikal Clarke from Louisburg Junior College, Esteban Gonzales Rivera, Silvert Haugli  and Marc Hoppler who transfers in from Roanoke College are among the newcomers who should add talent and depth to the backline.  . 

The graduation of Ben Lundgaard,  a four-year starter in goal and a first round selection in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, means that a new face will be between the pipes for Virginia Tech in 2018.  Junior Charles Filby, sophomore Hayden Kickbush and newcomer Mathjis Swaneveld are among those who are battling for the all important starting role in goal.  

Virginia Tech will enter the 2018 season with momentum.  However they also have several unanswered questions to address while dealing with a very difficult early season schedule that includes contests against ACC foes Virginia and Wake Forest.  Accordingly, the learning curve will need to be short for a Virginia Tech team that must establish its own identity relatively quickly in order to hold its own in the very competitive Atlantic Coast Conference.   

The midfield and backline should be team strengths.  As a whole, the Hokies are deep there with a good number of experienced players on hand supplemented by several newcomers who will push for playing time.  The hope at Virginia Tech is that the returning players continue to develop and that the newcomers are able to make an immediate contribution.  

Implementing adjustments in the offensive scheme may create speed bumps for the Hokies. The bumps in the road could cause problems while the offense gels and playmakers develop. 

The defense may have to shoulder the burden in the early going while the offense rounds into place.  Ironically, the level of play on the defensive side of the ball and particularly in goal will likely impact the Hokies ability to gel on the offensive side of the ball.  

The Hokies have significantly upped the level of their play over the past two years and now expect to win.  A third consecutive NCAA Tournament is within reach but only if someone, or a few someones, emerge to generate the balance needed on the offensive side of the ball.  

The bottom line is that the potential exists for another successful season.  However, all things considered, an NCAA Tournament berth in 2018 will be a significant accomplishment considering the difficulty of the scheule and the uncertainty that exists at this point on the offensive side of the ball and between the pipes.      


Posted in 2018 Team Reviews

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