MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (March 6, 2021) – Behind another strong defensive effort from its back line, the West Virginia University men’s soccer team earned its second win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Northern Illinois, on Saturday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
In their home and Mid-American Conference debuts, the Mountaineers (2-0-0, 1-0-0 MAC) recorded their second consecutive shutout to put another tally in the win column for first-year head coach Dan Stratford. Senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky earned his 16th career shutout in the win, moving him into fifth place all-time in the category
“I think there’s a bit more relief than excitement today, which is often the case as a coach,” Stratford said. “Once again, it was another good defensive display. We would have liked to have a bit more of the game in the second half, but ultimately Steven came up really big with one moment there late in the second half. Obviously, the defensive unit did a really good job to nullify most of what NIU brought today.”
The lone score in the contest came on an early penalty kick in the 12th minute for redshirt freshman Bjarne Thiesen. After NIU was whistled for a foul inside the box, Thiesen sent the ball to the low left corner to beat the Huskies’ keeper and tally a penalty goal in the second straight game.
From there, the game became a defensive battle for West Virginia’s back line, as it fought off the NIU attack for much of the contest. Tekesky recorded four saves against the Huskies, with his most crucial deflection of the match coming late in the second half. NIU’s Alex Welch sent a strong shot to the left post in the 77th minute, but Tekesky made a diving punch and corralled the ball to secure the shutout.
“That was the moment in the second half where Tekesky needed to deliver and make a world-class save, and he obviously did. The fact that he has that in his locker, on top of managing the game really well and being a good voice back there for our defensive line, makes a huge difference,” Stratford said.
Tekesky’s first save of the match came early on in the 3rd minute of the match, as NIU’s Enrique Banuelos was denied the chance to give the Huskies the early lead. Nick Markanich sent a pair of attempts Tekesky’s way in the 16th and 68th minutes, but still NIU remained scoreless. Northern Illinois’ final opportunity of the match was Tekesky’s stellar, 77th-minute save that ultimately put away the game for WVU.
The contest was decidedly heated between the two teams, as WVU and NIU were called for a combined 27 fouls, while three yellow cards were drawn on each team. Northern Illinois came away with an 11-2 advantage in shots, as well as a 4-1 advantage in corner kicks.
With the win, the Mountaineers even the all-time series to 4-4-2 between the two squads, earning their first victory over the Huskies since 2018. West Virginia moves to 3-3-3 all-time in MAC openers, as well as 2-3-1 in league openers at home.
West Virginia returns to the road on Sunday, March 14, for a 1 p.m. ET kickoff at Western Michigan, at WMU Soccer Complex in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Press Release Credit: WVU Athletics Communications
Photo Credit: WVU Sports