BLACKSBURG – Playing with 10 women for more than a half hour on Sunday, the Virginia Tech women’s soccer team put forth a gutsy performance against No. 2 Duke to draw, 1-1, at Thompson Field and remain unbeaten through its first three ACC matches of the season.
Nicole Kozlova gave Virginia Tech (7-2-2, 1-0-2 ACC) the lead during the 22nd minute, completing the Hokies’ attack with her team co-leading, seventh goal of the season.
With Tech advancing, Victoria Haugen threaded her forward pass from the midfield line through four converging Blue Devils to Tori Powell, who fought her way to the ball in the Hokies’ 18-yard box. Powell proceeded to curl her centering cross to the charging Kozlova, who tapped her one-time volley through the open frame to put the hosts on top.
Duke (7-1-1, 1-1-1 ACC) answered back during the 35th minute by staging a similar attack. From a difficult angle along the left end line, Nicole Chico chipped her 10-yard cross into the net after Tess Boade and Mackenzie Pluck had carried the Blue Devils through the midfield.
Sophomore goalkeeper Alia Skinner made eight saves to keep Tech in contention, helping the Hokies withstand Duke’s 17-6 edge in total attempts (9-3 on target).
Powell nearly put Tech ahead, 2-1, during the 59th minute as the Blue Devils were unable to clear the Hokies from their attacking third. Emily Gray came down with the ricocheted clearance and played through the box to Powell, who missed her one-on-one opportunity inches wide of the left post.
Receiving her first yellow card during the 67th minute, Tech defender Makenzie Graham was cautioned a second time during the 79th minute, leaving the Hokies to play with 10 women for the remainder of the match. Seven minutes later, Skinner scooped up Pluck’s bid at the match-winner – moments before Powell was retroactively shown yellow for her earlier challenge.
Skinner made two clutch saves during extra time before Tech was presented with its best look at the match-winning goal during the 96th minute. On a counter started by Gray, Powell made a 40-yard, open-field run at the net, despite firing her attempt straight into the diving Duke goalkeeper, Ruthie Jones.
Sunday’s draw marks the Hokies’ second consecutive result against a top-five opponent, having drawn with No. 4 North Carolina, 2-2, on Thursday in Chapel Hill. Tech also extended its unbeaten streak to five consecutive matches while remaining perfect this season at Thompson Field (5-0-1).
Virginia Tech will continue ACC action on Saturday, Oct. 2, when the Hokies travel to Pittsburgh for a 7 p.m. match against the Panthers.