VT Olympic Sports Holding Their Own in ACC
by Chris James, TechSideline.com, 10/20/04

When Virginia Tech joined the ACC, pundits noted that while the Hokies would bring a solid football team and a rabid football fan base to the conference, the strong Olympic sports programs of the other ACC teams would greatly overshadow those of Tech. The fall sports still have a long way to go before we see how the Hokies finish in the standings, but one thing is for certainÖfor the most part, the critics were wrong.

Tech isnít currently winning the ACC in any sport, but they are playing pretty well for the most part. Letís take a look at a mid-October update for each of the Hokiesí Olympic sports teams (Editor's Note: All scores and records are current through the weekend's games):


Menís Soccer

Oliver Weiss has continued to do a nice job with the menís soccer team since the move to the ACC. Weiss is in his 3rd year as head coach at Virginia Tech. In 2002, he led the Hokies to a 10-7 overall record, with a 5-5 mark in the Big East. In 2003, his team exceeded expectations with a 14-5 overall record, with a 7-3 mark in Big East play. The 2003 Hokies advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament, downing Clemson in the first round.

Despite a big year in 2003, the Hokies were only picked to finish 7th out of an 8 team ACC in 2004. Tech did, however, receive a first place vote. Thus far, the Hokies are 7-6 overall, with a 1-2 record in ACC play. And what a big win that one ACC win was! The Hokies knocked off #1 Duke on the road on October 8, which is a good indicator of how far the program has come.

That isnít Techís only win over a ranked team in 2004. The Hokies also knocked off #23 Coastal Carolina on October 3 in the Clemson Nike Classic. Against other ranked competition in 2004, the Hokies lost to #13 Penn St. 2-1 in overtime, and lost to #21 Maryland 2-1 in overtime. Tech also dropped an exhibition match against #9 Old Dominion 3-2.

Oliver Weiss also made some headlines in the offseason when he and his staff reeled in the 8th best recruiting class in the nation. That is pretty impressive, and it shows two things: 1) Virginia Tech has made a commitment to its Olympic sports by hiring good coaches and supporting them with enough money to recruit; and 2) being part of the ACC is already making a difference for Virginia Tech.

While that #8 recruiting ranking is impressive, even more impressive is the number of ACC schools on that list. Duke was listed at #2, North Carolina at #4, Maryland at #5, Wake Forest at #6, Clemson at #10, and UVA at #16. So that means that of the 8 teams that have menís soccer teams in the ACC, 7 of them were in the top 16 nationally in recruiting. And while the Hokies recruiting class was ranked 8th nationally, that only ranks 5th in their own conference! Welcome to the big time, Hokie fans.


Womenís Soccer

Perhaps the most improved Olympic Sports team at Virginia Tech, the womenís soccer team has enjoyed a big turnaround from the past few seasons. They boast a record of 8-6 overall, and 3-4 in the ACC. Currently they are 7th out of a 10 team league (Georgia Tech doesnít have a womenís soccer team), but their standings donít indicate how much of an improvement they have made.

When you consider past records (8-9-3, 1-8-1 in conference play in 2001; 6-11-1, 2-4 in 2002; 9-9, 2-4 in 2003), this yearís womenís soccer team is much improved, especially when considering the level of play in the ACC. So far Tech has played 5 ranked teams, and while the Hokies are only 1-4 in those games (the win being a 3-2 win over #19 Wake Forest), two games have resulted in narrow 1-0 losses to #24 Clemson and #14 Florida State.

Tech has 3 games remaining in the regular season: at Virginia, a home contest with Miami, and the regular season finale at Marshall. A win over Virginia is unlikely, but if the Hokies can beat Miami (last in the ACC) and Marshall (last in the MAC), then they will finish the regular season with an overall record of 10-7, with a 4-5 mark in the ACC, which would represent a very solid inaugural season.

Looking past this yearís record, there are other signs that the womenís soccer program is moving in the right direction.

1) Kelly Cagle is a young coach from a winning program (Duke, í96). She is a 3 time All-ACC player, as well as a 3 time All-American. She was the ACC Player of the Year in 1995. She is a former member of the US National Team. So obviously, she has a good background in the sport.

2) Recruiting is getting better. Cagle and her staff brought in the 24th ranked recruiting class this past year, and those players are currently freshmen on the team in 2004.

3) In 2003, Cagleís first year as head coach, the womenís soccer team tied the school record of nine wins, quite good for a first year head coach. If the Hokies win 2 of their final 3 games to finish 10-7 in 2004, the 10 win mark will set the record for most wins in school history. Not bad for a second year head coach.


Volleyball

Much like the womenís soccer team, the volleyball team has been a pleasant surprise in the Hokiesí inaugural ACC season. Currently, Tech stands 11-9 on the season, with a 5-3 record in the ACC. That is good for 5th place in an 11 team league. The Hokies were only 13-14 last year as members of the Big East, and were picked to finish 10th in the ACC in the preseason.

While Tech has gotten off to a good start, they will have a long way to go. The Hokies play their next 4 games on the road against Florida State (4-4, 6th in the ACC), Miami (5-3, 4th in the ACC), Maryland (4-4, 8th in the ACC) and Virginia (3-5, 9th in the ACC). So the Hokies are going to be matching up with some similar teams record wise over the next couple of weeks, and how they fare will go a long way in deciding where they finish in the ACC.


Golf

Unfortunately, the golf team has been struggling in their inaugural ACC season. The Hokies have competed in 3 tournaments so far in 2004.

At the Bank of Tennessee Intercollegiate at the Ridges, the Hokies tied with East Tennessee St. for 13th out of a 15 team field, shooting a +21 for the tournament. They only finished ahead of one ACC opponent (Florida St.), while finishing behind 5 ACC teams (Clemson, Wake Forest, Virginia, North Carolina and Duke).

The Hokies then went on to finish 8th out of a 9 team field at the Franklin Street Partners Invitational at UNC. Tech shot a + 24 for the tournament, which was 3 shots better than 9th place East Carolina, and 9 shots behind 7th place UNC-Wilmington.

At the Coca-Cola Duke Golf Classic, the Hokies finished 12 out of 14 teams, and only placed one golfer (Ryan Sypniewski, 7th place) inside the top 20 individually.


Cross Country

The menís and womenís cross country teams are both enjoying good years in 2004. Both teams opened the season September 4th at the Festival in the Fields in Blacksburg. Both the menís and womenís teams finished the event in first place, against a field of 7 other teams.

At the Lou Onesty Invitation in Charlottesville, the womenís team managed a 2nd place finish, while the menís team came home in 4th place. Both the menís and womenís teams finished 1st yet again at the Bobcat Invitational in Banner Elk, NC.

In their latest meet, the womenís team finished 6th and the menís team finished 10th in a 31 team field at the Chile Pepper Invite.


Swimming and Diving

While the Menís and Womenís Swimming and Diving teams have only competed in one competition each, the results were impressive as they both downed NC State on October 15 in Blacksburg. The men won a close matchup with a final score of 130-113, while the women dominated State by a final of 144-98.

That is a solid start for the Hokies, but NC State doesnít exactly represent murdererís row in the ACC. The State menís team finished 6th in the 2003-04 ACC Championship, while the women finished last in 8th place (Wake Forest does not compete in Swimming and Diving).

The true test for both teams will come later in the season, with teams such as North Carolina, Florida State, Maryland and Georgia Tech on the schedule.

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