MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 31, 2021) – Junior midfielder Ike Swiger found the back of the net twice in the second half to lead the West Virginia University men’s soccer team in a 3-1 victory over Western Michigan at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, in Morgantown, on Wednesday.
Along with Swiger’s brace, redshirt sophomore defender Dyon Dromers put the Mountaineers (5-2, 3-2 MAC) on the board with a goal mid-way through the first half. However, it was Swiger’s 50th-minute goal that was credited as the game winner, marking the Fairmont native’s second in as many games. In an offensive battle, WVU edged WMU (4-3, 2-3 MAC), 11-9, in shots, while the Mountaineers managed to place eight of those attempts on goal.
“I think we took a lot of confidence from the way we were able to play in the away fixture against Western Michigan earlier this season,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “We tried to reinforce the messages and the playing style that we had when we played there. I know I keep saying it, but that was probably our best performance of the season when we played at their place. We knew that if we could move the ball with that quality, we could come out on top this season.”
The Mountaineers came out of the gate firing, tallying five shots before the 20-minute mark. West Virginia had a trio of early chances, as sophomore midfielder Luke McCormick started it off with a pair of shots on goal. His first attempt was swatted away by WMU keeper Isaac Walker, but McCormick took the high rebound with the edge of his boot to fire another, which found the glove of Walker. The ball ricocheted back into play, and redshirt freshman defender Sergio Ors Navaro took possession from the left side and booted a shot of his own, but Walker corralled his attempt to put a stop to the Mountaineer attack.
However, WVU came knocking again, and this time Dromers delivered. McCormick weaved a pass from the left side into Dromers, who was just above the box. He eyed up the Bronco keeper and knocked a high ball into the goal in the 26th minute to put the Mountaineers up, 1-0. The score marked the first of Dromers’ WVU career, while it was the first assist for McCormick this season.
Western Michigan’s first chance didn’t come until late in the first half, when the Broncos took a shot off a corner kick that was no match for senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky, who caught the attempt to send WVU to the locker room up by a score.
Out of the half, Swiger didn’t waste any time scoring his second goal in a WVU uniform. Redshirt freshman midfielder Ryan Baer sent a cross to classmate Jesus De Vicente, whose pass into the 6-yard box bounced off a WMU defender, before Swiger found the ball in open space and tapped it in for the score and eventual game winner in the 50th minute. The assists marked the first of Baer’s career and the second this season for De Vicente.
Following Swiger’s goal, the WVU attack continued its pressure, as McCormick took another opportunity for a pair of back-to-back shots on goal. However, the Broncos reclaimed possession to eventually put themselves on the board. A header attempt from Dylan Sing bounced off the right post, but Mike Melaragni took the rebound and beat Tekesky to the net to draw within one at the 72:59 mark.
The Mountaineers didn’t waste any time tallying a response, though. In the 76th minute, Baer sent in a corner kick that found the back heel of Swiger, who bounced it into the goal to complete the brace and secure the 3-1 victory for WVU.
“There was probably a 20-minute spell there in the first half where it was probably our best spell of football so far this season, and it culminated with the goal,” Stratford added. “I challenged them at halftime to continue to remain disciplined. When it’s working and when we’re implementing the system as effectively as we were, it’s important for us to stay disciplined and continue to do the right things so as to not get drunk or greedy on our success.”
Wednesday’s win over Western Michigan marked WVU’s first of the year when allowing an opponent to score. Despite narrowly missing the clean sheet, Tekesky notched four saves in the contest, while WMU’s Walker tallied five. The Broncos also held a 5-4 advantage in corner kicks.
After WMU took a one-game advantage in the all-time series following its win over WVU earlier in season, the Mountaineers’ victory on Wednesday once again evened the all-time series to 5-5-2, including a 2-2-1 tie in Morgantown.
West Virginia gets another break this week, before traveling to No. 21 Akron on Wednesday, April 7. Kickoff against the Zips is tabbed for 7 p.m. ET inside FirstEnergy Stadium in Akron, Ohio.