CCU men's soccer opener

Coastal Carolina midfielder Marcello Jones (#8) attempts to clear the ball upfield during Sunday's 2-0 loss to #4/#10 Virginia Tech. Photo by Ian Livingston Brooking.

The two-time defending Sun Belt Conference champions fell to Virginia Tech 2-0 Sunday afternoon in their spring 2021 opener.

“We were off to a slow start,” Coastal head coach Shaun Docking said. “We got a lot to work on.”

Sunday’s match was the first for the Chanticleers since their conference championship win on penalties over Georgia State back on Nov. 15, 2020. Coastal was scheduled to play West Virginia last weekend but due to COVID-19 issues within Coastal’s program the match was canceled. 

“For us, we had a week of quarantine. We had some guys that had been out and it showed,” Docking said.

Senior goalkeeper Tor Saunders described Sunday as “shaking the rust off.”

“I thought I was poor today, to be fair, both me and the team,” Saunders said. “The luxury for us is that we know we’re in the tournament so if we are going to get the kinks out, now is the time to do it.”

Coastal’s defense stood tall for the first 20 minutes of the first half. Tech’s Jacob Labovitz tested Saunders in the 14th minute but the ball rolled comfortably into Saunders’ gloves. Labovitz, however, would get the best of Saunders not 10 minutes later as Saunders failed to clear a back to him and Labovitz sped by Saunders for an easy tap in to make it 1-0 Hokies.

Saunders committed another error early in the second half, colliding with a Hokie forward in the box, causing the official to give a penalty. Despite diving the right way, the ball just crept past Saunders and the Hokies found themselves 2-0 down with just over a half hour to play.

The Chants did not throw in the towel though, keeping the pressure on Virginia Tech. Coastal registered seven shots in the second half compared to Tech’s two. Junior defender Marcelo Lage, who was the Chants leading scorer in the fall with five goals, had a few of those chances.

“When you go up against an ACC team, you can only go up from there,” Lage said. “We can build off that possession and hopefully get some results as the season goes on.”

“Statistically, apart from the goals, we had more corners than them and created few more chances on set pieces that in the fall we would have been able to convert,” Docking said. 

Docking added that there were “a lot of positive signs” in the Chants first game of the year against a talented ACC program. 

“It shows us in what direction we got to move into,” Docking said.

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