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November 12, 2012

Heartbreak For Hokies In NCAA Tourney Loss

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I'd already written and prepared my game story for this website's front page.

It appeared that the Virginia Tech Hokies women's soccer team would play at least one more game in 2012. The Hokies had scored two goals- something that couldn't be said for the previous 13 opponents the Georgetown Hoyas had faced. Coincidentally, they needed to hold off the Hoya attack for just 13 more minutes.

That's all Georgetown needed (plus three overtime minutes) to flip the my assumed ending and take down Virginia Tech 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

As I watched the events unfold at Thompson Field on Sunday night, my journalistic qualities were tested. We try to be as professional-and unbiased- as we can, but it's hard to not let Sunday night's result attract emotion. To watch a group of college athletes be heartbroken, in that fashion, it hurts.

It hurts because we've all been there. Convinced you're about to accomplish something special, it all gets taken away in the blink of an eye. On Sunday, it was Georgetown's Sarah Adams that ended it.

"It's tough because with the Golden Goal, you lose it, and that's it," Hokies senior Kelly Conheeney said after the game. "It hits you hard."

For Conheeney and five other seniors, the Georgetown overtime goal will be the last memory they have of Virginia Tech soccer. It almost seems unfair.

""It's tough being up by a goal in a game like this because the other team is gonna have so much emotion trying to score," Virginia Tech junior goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts said. "We've gotta be able to close out those games. It's been a problem for us all year."

As I walked past a group of players for postgame interviews, I couldn't help but notice all the teary-eyed Hokies. To put that much effort into an entire season of work- and be defeated like that- I can't imagine the heartbreak.

However, over time, these girls will realize all the things they accomplished. Six total losses is the least amount in school history, so this group of girls will be bonded together forever. It was also certainly a testament to the Hokies season that they were ranked #25 heading into the NCAA tournament, although they hadn't qualified for the ACC tournament.

They were a group of battlers. When Georgetown took a 1-0 lead, scoring multiple goals against one of the best defenses in the nation seemed improbable. That's probably what made the loss hurt all the more.

"Obviously it's a heartbreaker, the game could have gone either way," Conheeney said. "We both competed to our full potential, and we could of finished some opportunities that we didn't and they finished there's."

A fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament for Virginia Tech didn't end as hoped, but the Hokies are sure to make another run next year. Only four starters will graduate. And if next year's team is able to accomplish something bigger, they will surely look upon Sunday as a big step in the process.

"It definitely hurts being done," Conheeney added. "But it was the greatest experience that I could ever go through playing with these girls."

HokieHaven.com wishes all the best to Kelly and the five other seniors: Erika Weidman, Anne Lumpkin, Julia Goldsworthy, Kelsey Mitchell, and Amanda Gerhard.

Note: Not including Rivals' premium sites, do not copy/paste and or repost this column outside of Rivals.com, particularly on message boards, chat rooms and e-mails, as it is a direct violation of copyright laws. Thank you.

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