The Virginia Tech men's soccer team was picked to finish last in the ACC, and after seven games, the one-win Hokies were living up to expectations.

But sparked by the emergence of two freshmen from Ghana, Virginia Tech has embarked on a school-record 10-game unbeaten streak to earn the No. 10 ranking in this week's Soccer America poll and move closer to its second NCAA tournament berth.

With a victory over second-ranked Maryland (13-3-1, 6-1-0 ACC) tonight in Blacksburg, Va., the Hokies (10-3-4, 3-1-3) have a chance to earn the No. 2 seed in next week's conference tournament in Cary, N.C. The Terrapins, who are on a nine-game unbeaten run, clinched the top seed last week and will face the eighth or ninth seed in the quarterfinals Wednesday.

While Maryland's success was widely expected, Virginia Tech was an afterthought at the start of the season. It opened with a win over Towson, but then endured three losses and three ties. Since then, the Hokies have averaged three goals per game to go on a 9-0-1 tear, which included a 2-1 overtime victory at then-No. 5 Virginia last week.

Forward Patrick Nyarko and midfielder Joshua Boateng of Ghana have provided a boost after sitting out three weeks while awaiting NCAA clearance. Nyarko, who scored twice against Virginia, has eight goals and five assists in just 12 games and Boateng four goals and three assists in 11 appearances.

Greg Roach, a senior midfielder from Woodbridge, is tied for third on the team in points (11). . . .

The Catholic women's team (17-0-2) will attempt to earn its first NCAA Division III tournament berth at 2 p.m. tomorrow when it faces York in the Capital Athletic Conference final at Trinity College.

-- Steven Goff