The West Virginia men’s soccer team came out strong on Monday evening outscoring No. 3 Pitt in a tightly contested matchup of the Backyard Brawl, 2-1.
The heroics on the night came off the head of Adam Burchell who headed in a beautiful shot into the back of the net with only 15 minutes remaining in regulation and the score knotted at a goal apiece. The assisting passes which helped set up the score came off the feet of Ryan Baer and Kyle Lenhert from the other side of the box.
“The guys stayed so strong in terms of their courage and character,” WVU head coach Dan Stratford said. “If it wasn’t on that play it felt like it was going to be another one pretty soon, we had a period of pressure and a number of close calls and marginal glancing shots in the penalty area that we were the team on the front third and that was the message at halftime.”
The Mountaineers got on the board for the first time of the night only 20 minutes into the ballgame off the foot of Luke McCormick. The goal saw McCormick dribble around a couple defenders before putting the final touches on the one goal advantage in the first.
The lone Pitt score came 49 minutes into the action just following halftime as Alexander Dexter took a pass from Jasper Loeffelsend and sent a shot into the bottom right portion of the goal to tie the match at a lone goal apiece.
West Virginia’s defense was strong against a solid Pitt offense only allowing the one goal but also only three shots on goal as opposed to the Mountaineers six shots on goal the entire night. Because of the three shots on goal, West Virginia goalkeeper Steven Tekesky had a fairly quiet night in goal only making a pair of saves of which both came in the second half.
It was also an electric and dicey matchup as the Mountaineer crowd was hyped up and each team committed their fair share of penalties. The two teams combined for 28 fouls in total while the Mountaineers were whistled on 15 of them.
“It’s amazing, it’s what these guys have come here for, it’s what we’ve promised them through the recruiting process that they’re going to get to play in huge games, the count that matter in front of big crowds in front of quality opponents because Pittsburgh’s a very, very good team and this will be a memory that will last a lifetime,” Stratford said about the big crowd which helped propel his team to victory.
Senior forward Yoran Popovic led West Virginia on the offensive end of the field sending three shots toward the net and a pair of shots on goal. Midfielder Veljko Petkovic led Pitt’s attack with a total of four shots on the night.
West Virginia will now look to keep their two-game winning streak to begin the season going when they host No. 11 Penn State on Friday at 7 p.m. on Trivia Night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.