MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (August 25, 2021) – The 61st season of West Virginia University men’s soccer begins at Robert Morris on Thursday, Aug. 26, in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Kickoff at North Athletic Complex is set for 4 p.m. ET.
“We’ve done what we could with what (Robert Morris) had in the spring, who their returning players were and kept an eye on results through their preseason,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “It’s a relatively new coach and a lot of new players, and I’m sure they’re going to be incredibly ambitious with what their intent is this season. It can be a tricky one if we’re not switched on.”
Thursday marks the 20th meeting between the Mountaineers and Colonials but the first since 2005. Most recently, the two schools met in NCAA Tournament action in Morgantown, a 1-0 WVU win in the first round. In all, West Virginia is 13-6 against RMU, including 4-3 on the road.
WVU has won eight consecutive matches against Robert Morris, dating back to 1998. In those affairs, the Mountaineers have registered multiple goals six times.
West Virginia is 34-21-5 in season openers all time, including lid-lifting wins in each of the last four years. Last season, the Mountaineers topped Charlotte, 3-0, on Feb. 26, 2021, in Stratford’s WVU head-coaching debut.
The Mountaineers are returning 15 lettermen off last season’s 6-3-1 squad, including 10 of 11 starters. All seven goal scorers return to the mix this fall, including senior forward Ike Swiger, who led the team with four goals in 2020-21.
WVU, which conceded just six goals and tallied six clean sheets last spring, feature five players who earned All-MAC honors last season. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky, Swiger and junior midfielder Luke McCormick earned first-team honors, while fifth-year senior midfielder Pau Jimenez Albelda and fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris were placed on the second team.
For the first time in program history, the Mountaineers were voted to finish No. 1 in the 2021 MAC Preseason Poll, which was released on Thursday. In a vote by the league’s seven head coaches, WVU earned 40 points, one ahead of second-place Akron (39) and two in front of No. 3 Bowling Green (38). West Virginia received three first-place votes in the poll, while Bowling Green earned two. Akron and fourth-place Western Michigan also had one first-place vote each.
Robert Morris is led by second-year coach Jason O’Keefe. The Colonials finished 1-6-1 during a spring-only, 2020-21 campaign. All eight of the team’s fixtures were played within the Horizon League.
The squad’s lone goal of the season came in a 1-0 win over Purdue-Fort Wayne on March 6. Miller Masson, who was credited with the game-winner, returns to the club this season.
RMU’s last win against the Mountaineers came on Aug. 30, 1998, a 1-0 victory at home.