WVU advances in NCAA soccer tournament
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (Nov. 21, 2021) – The No. 11-seeded West Virginia University men’s soccer team earned a 1-1 draw against Virginia Tech and advanced on penalty kicks in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Sunday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
The Mountaineers move on to the third round for the first time since 2007, and just the third time in program history, following a 4-3 advantage in the penalty shootout. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky made a pair of PK saves, before fifth-year senior midfielder Pau Jimenez Albelda scored the deciding goal to help WVU advance.
“I think the best team won,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “In the first half, we were excellent, especially to start the game. When we scored as early as we did, I thought we settled in. It would’ve been really nice to capitalize on that momentum and score the second because we knew they had some threats.
“Then, it was just ‘Is it going to come?,’ which is perhaps a synopsis of our season with creating good opportunities but not feeling like we can quite get that final pass or shot to go our way. So, we had to do it the hard way, but (we) stepped up in those moments to make sure the best team won.”
It took less than seven minutes for the Mountaineers (11-3-5) to find the back of the net and take an early lead in front of 1,017 fans at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. After a cross sent in by junior midfielder Luke McCormick was deflected away, senior forward Ike Swiger was in the right spot to open the scoring and give West Virginia a 1-0 advantage. The tally marked the Fairmont, West Virginia, native’s second of the season.
From there, WVU had its chances to add to the lead. Sophomore forward Ciro Bourlot Jaeggi’s header attempt went just wide in the 14th minute, which became the first of several good looks for the hosts.
Still, the Mountaineers returned to the locker room with a 1-0 lead after 45 minutes.
Following halftime, the Hokies (11-5-4) found the equalizer in the 56th minute to make it 1-1. Just a few minutes later, senior forward Yoran Popovic’s header sailed inches high in the 59th, while sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks just missed the frame with a shot in the 68th minute.
In the 74th minute, Bourlot Jaeggi had a shot saved by the VT goalkeeper, which led to redshirt sophomore midfielder/defender Dyon Dromers hitting the crossbar in the 89th minute to keep the score line level.
From there, the two sides played two, goalless, 10-minute overtime periods, resulting in the penalty-kick shootout. Crooks had perhaps the best chance in the 110th minute when his bicycle-kick attempt at goal was swatted away.
In the shootout, Tekesky made a pair of big saves, while Crooks, Dromers, freshman midfielder Otto Ollikainen and Jimenez Albelda all converted to push the Mountaineers over the line.
Of note, the shootout was WVU’s first since Nov. 10, 2007, against Louisville in the Big East Tournament.
WVU held a 15-10 advantage in shots on the day, including 4-3 in shots on goal. West Virginia also held a 9-4 edge in corner kicks.
With the result, the Mountaineers moved to 7-14-1 in NCAA Tournament play, as well as 4-8-1 all-time against Virginia Tech. What’s more, WVU remained unbeaten at home this season, moving to 8-0-3 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Next up, West Virginia advances to the NCAA Third Round against the winner of No. 6 Tulsa-Creighton. Date, location and time of the contest are to be determined.
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