RALEIGH – With the end of the season fast approaching and championship dreams flying through the mind of every player across the country, it’s no wonder Wednesday night’s game was such a barnburner.
Looking to make their case for a bid into the NCAA Division I tournament, the Wolfpack came into the contest against Virginia Tech with an energetic and aggressive attitude. Fresh off a Friday night contest with Boston College, NC State was looking to make a big statement on their home field in the first round of the ACC Tournament.
The Wolfpack hung tough for 90 minutes before surrendering the match-winning goal in the 92nd minute in overtime, losing 1-0 at Dail Soccer Field in Raleigh. On a beautiful night for soccer, the energy of the crowd helped fuel the Pack’s hard-fought effort and led to a nail-biting finish.
After putting in a masterful defensive effort for all of regulation, fatigue set in during the opening minutes of overtime. Nine NC State players played all 91 minutes, and two others played 70 or more. Starting goalkeeper, Leon Krapf, played the entire game and had two saves before allowing the only goal of the game.
One of those saves came with 27 minutes to go in the first half, when Virginia Tech’s Elias Tamburini went for a shot on goal, and Krapf made the acrobatic play to prevent disaster. Wolfpack standout Manny Perez notched a shot on goal himself. With 23 minutes to play in regulation, Perez challenged the Hokies’ goalkeeper Ben Lundgaard and excited the crowd, but Lundgaard narrowly managed to make the save.
With 10 minutes remaining in the second half, NC State’s David Loera approached the goal from the right side and fired a shot that looked promising, but just barely sailed over the goal post. In all, NC State and Virginia Tech tied in total shots attempted, at 8 to 8. The Hokies recorded twice as many fouls as the Wolfpack, by a margin of 10 to 5.
After concluding the regular season 8-5-4, the Wolfpack were hoping to make a strong showing in the ACC Tournament and boost their hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth. They were certainly on the right path for this in holding a solid Virginia Tech team without a goal for 90 minutes, but ultimately fell short after becoming fatigued from competing in such a hard-fought and exciting match.