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Sep 08, 2012

Streaking Virginia Tech not intimidated by No. 1 North Carolina (Sat. 7 p.m. on ESPN3)

(Photo from Virginia Tech Athletics)

Virginia Tech has won three straight matches and will try to make it four tonight when they square off against the nation’s top ranked team, North Carolina.

The Hokies, who beat the Tarheels 1-0 in an overtime thriller early last season, open conference play with perhaps the toughest possible match-up a team could ask for- playing against the No. 1 team in the land in the most unforgiving environment: Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill.

However, head coach Mike Brizendine and company are not backing down from a tough opponent, knowing that although this may be their biggest test of the season, there are many more major tests to come.

“We’re looking to get out of this game and move up,” said Coach Brizendine. “We’re looking to make a push by starting off with two, three or four wins but that’s a tall order and it’s going to be tough.”

“Obviously we’re taking it one game at a time, but we want to do better than we did last year,” he continued. “Playing in the ACC, it doesn’t take long to figure out where you’re at because there are so many good teams. UNC, Wake Forest, Boston College, and N.C. State is undefeated. You get three wins in our league and it means you’ve done something.”

Virginia Tech has not conceded a goal since the team’s 3-1 opening day loss to SIU-Edwardsville, and have now won three straight matches by way of shutout. The Hokies outscored Richmond, Temple and St. Bonaventure by a combined score of 6-0 in their last three wins and are gaining momentum as one of the hottest teams in the ACC. They will look to ride that momentum into Chapel Hill tonight as they seek to pull off what would be the most surprising upset in college soccer so far this season.

“Coming off of three wins and three shutouts, we have the confidence and the belief that we can get the job done,” said Hokie goalkeeper Kyle Renfro. “Right now we’re just working hard in training and preparing our minds for the game, so when game time come we’re mentally and physically prepared.”

As important as tonight’s match is for establishing a culture of continued success for Virginia Tech, the team did not do anything differently in practice than they would on any other week. Shutting down the Tarheels’ explosive offense which has been led so far by Andy Craven (two goals), Martin Murphy (two goals) and freshman sensation Danny Garcia (three assists) is an extremely difficult task, but the Hokies’ defense is hot and they believe they are up for it.

“It’s the same,” said Brizendine, when asked if practice before a match-up with UNC is any different than a typical week. “Every game is a dog fight, especially when you’re playing a non-league game. Everyone wants to beat an ACC or BIG EAST team, and when you’re playing an ACC game everybody wants those points. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, you’ve got to prepare well for whomever you play.”

The Hokies and Tarheels kick off at 7 p.m. tonight at UNC. The game will be streamed live on ESPN3.

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