While most Hokie fans were re-hashing a too-close-for-comfort win over East Carolina, the Virginia Tech men's soccer team was pulling off a huge upset of the nation's top team.
The Hokies beat No. 1 North Carolina, 1-0, in double overtime Saturday night at Thompson Field in Blacksburg. It was a huge win for a program that has seen remarkable peaks and valleys the last four years.
Oliver Weiss built the Virginia Tech program in the mid-2000s with an influx of foreign-born talent that eventually helped the Hokies to the semifinals 2007 College Cup. Leading the way that year was Ghanan Patrick Nyarko, who is now one of the few bright spots on an otherwise poor Chicago Fire club in Major League Soccer.
But Weiss abruptly resigned from his position June 2, 2009, and assistant coach Mike Brizendine was promoted to head coach. Two months later, it was uncovered that Weiss had loaned money to eight foreign players to pay various NCAA and university fees. Weiss mistaken believed the loans were not violations and the players paid him back, but it was still a black eye for the program.
The NCAA didn't place the program on probation for the secondary violations, but the Hokies stopped recruiting foreign players.
The program's fall was a swift one. Due to heavy graduation, Tech went from 14-4-5 in 2007 to 5-13-1 and 0-8 in ACC play in 2008, Weiss' final season. The next two years under Brizendine were also forgettable, as the Hokies combined to go 10-25-3 overall and 3-12-1 in the ACC.
But recruiting improved for the Hokies and even though they voluntarily stopped recruiting foreign players through this season, they have combined some of the better players from Virginia with players from California, Texas and Florida. Seven of the 11 players that started against UNC were either freshmen or sophomores and another five got into the game.
This season has also seen early struggles for the Hokies. They opened 0-2 with losses to Howard and Wisconsin before beating Cincinnati and North Carolina.
The Hokies still face a very long road to get back to the heights the program reached in 2007. However, for the first time since that year there appears to be significant improvement and some light at the end of the tunnel. Saturday's win was a huge one for the program and one a group of players who have become accustomed to getting blown out by the ACC's best needed.