Nov. 15, 2009

DAYTON, Ohio - The No. 17 Hokies earned their second-ever NCAA Tournament victory as they defeated the No. 23 Dayton Flyers, 3-1, on their home field to advance to the Sweet 16. This is the first time the Hokies have defeated the Flyers and the furthest Tech has ever been in the Tournament as they continue on what has been their best season in program history. Junior forward Marika Gray tallied two scores in the match while freshman Kelly Conheeney added a goal for the Hokies. Allison Giner was the lone goal-scorer for the Flyers.

Tech (16-7-0) was the first on the board for the second time this weekend as Gray sparked the Hokie offense once again. Gray, who scored the first goal early in the first half of the Murray State match, netted her second goal of the weekend as she took advantage of a Dayton (16-1-6) miscommunication and knocked a loose ball away from the Flyers' keeper, tapping it into a wide-open net from the right side, just in front of the goal line.

The first half would continue with both teams aggressively attacking on each end. Although Dayton out-shot Tech 8-7 in the half, the Hokies had the advantage on target, 6-3. Both teams came close to getting on the board after the goal as Dayton's Mandi Back sent a ball from just beyond the 18-yard box that kept everyone in their place, seeming like it would sail over the net but the hard-hit ball nailed the bottom of the crossbar and remained in play but was later cleared out by the Tech defense.

Later in the half, Robin Chidester slipped past the Dayton defender and was faced with a one-on-one with Flyer keeper Katherine Boone. From the right side of the field, Chidester tried to cross the ball into the opposite side of the net but Boone made a diving save, deflecting the ball into the left side of the field.

In the beginning of the second half the Hokies would dominate the ball in the opening minutes, getting two shots off early but Dayton would come close on their first attempt when Kelly Blumenschein delivered a hard shot to Tech's keeper Kristin Carden but Carden blocked it with her foot, sending the ball out into the stands. Minutes later the Flyers would try again after Tech foul in the right corner, Dayton was able to get a head on the served ball and Carden was there for the save.

In the 59th minute the Hokies' resilient attacking would pay off again as Conheeney put the Hokies up 2-0. Chidester was faced again with a lone Flyer defender but got tangled up on a shot attempt as the defender went down and covered the ball. The ball came loose from the two-player scramble and Conheeney came down field, into the box, and was able to get a foot on the loose ball, placing it over the keeper, into the left side of the net.

Tech would tack on one more, seven minutes later, when Gray netted her second goal of the game and 10th of the year. Chidester had the ball just beyond the 18-yard box on the left side of the field and slipped it into the box to Gray, in motion. Gray handled the ball and fired at the net but Boone got down and blocked it with her body but Gray stayed in place, received the rebound and lifted the ball just over the fallen keeper, into the left side of the net.

The Flyers would finally get on the board in the 79th minute after Back took a shot from the top left corner of the 18-yard box, attempting to cross it into the opposite side of the net but Carden dove at the ball, getting a hand on it but Allison Giner came flying down the right side of the field and was able to get a hold of the slow-rolling ball, and tapped it into the wide-open net.

Carden finished the match making five saves and faced 16 shots while Boone tallied four saves on the day, facing 15 Hokie shots.

The Hokies will now advance to the Sweet 16 and will face second-seeded Portland (20-1), a 2-1 winner over Washington Sunday in the second round at home. The third-round match will take place next weekend, Nov. 20-21, and the exact date and time will be determined early in the week.