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Hokies host Cavaliers

Virginia eyes third ACC road win against struggling Virginia Tech

The Virginia men's soccer team looks for a strong finish to its season and ACC play beginning with a win tonight against rival Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers travel to Blacksburg for their season's final away game and hope to shake up the conference standings, as they currently stand fourth behind Maryland, North Carolina and Duke.

Virginia Tech (4-9-1, 1-4 ACC) enters the game after collecting only its fourth win of the season, a 1-0 shutout against Wright State. The Hokies sit in the conference's cellar and their only shining moment during ACC play came Sept. 10 when they were able to outlast then-No. 1 North Carolina in a double overtime thriller. With hopes of a high ranking in the ACC championship out of the question, for them the game is more about pride. Virginia Tech has not defeated its arch-rival since an overtime win in 2005 - one of only two times the Hokies have beaten the Cavaliers historically.

Virginia (9-5-0, 3-2 ACC), meanwhile, comes off a much-needed win against an overmatched Howard squad after suffering a disappointing defeat to Wake Forest the previous Friday.

The Cavaliers weathered a shaky first half and broke the scoreless tie in the 63nd minute, when senior defender Hunter Jumper's attempted cross sailed into the net. The Cavaliers scored again on a penalty kick off the foot of junior forward Will Bates during the 71st minute.

"The combination of me personally playing a little bit better and then the team playing a lot better as we've gotten to a stretch of pretty good soccer, it all kind of combined to make the team effort [improve]," Bates said. "Individually you get better as the team develops, [and] that's played a huge aspect."

Bates ranks second in points in the ACC with 32, accumulating 14 goals and four assists thus far this season. Virginia will target him frequently as it looks to keep the offensive pressure constant against the Hokies.

If Virginia is able to consistently get the ball into Virginia Tech's side of the field, it will look to execute successful set plays on corner kicks. Jumper took all 10 kicks during Tuesday's game, so he hopes to be sharp for tonight.

"For the corner kicks, for the most part we just try to go near post over the spot guy," Jumper said after the victory against Howard. "We've been really successful lately. [We] scored against Wake, scored against Navy. We've been really successful going near post and then we always have Greg [Monaco] going back post. Tonight we had like 20 corner kicks so it was good practice."

Virginia commanded time of possession against Howard and outshot the Bison 30-2.

The Hokies rank last in the ACC in goals and assists per game, but Virginia coach George Gelnovatch knows he cannot expect the same type of offensive dominance from his team tonight when it faces an in-conference rival.

"It will be a totally different game," coach George Gelnovatch said. "It's a conference game. It'll be obviously a better back-and-forth game."

The game will kick off tonight at 7 p.m.


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