This past season for West Virginia men’s soccer was nothing short of historic. From August until December, the Mountaineers continued to prove to the country something special was being built in Morgantown.
West Virginia started out strong, not losing until Oct. 9, when the Mountaineers fell 2-0 to Northern Illinois.
The Mountaineers were able to keep their head up, pushing their way through the tough season. With an excellent season, the men’s team found themselves eligible to participate in the MAC Championships for the 2021 season.
WVU was matched up in the MAC Semifinal against Georgia State to fight their way to the MAC Championships.
The Mountaineers had previously played Georgia State on October 28th where they came off the Dick Dlesk Soccer Field with a 2-1 win.
While WVU had good momentum going into the MAC tournament, they found themselves stumped during the MAC Semifinal game.
The two teams had their work cut out for them both. Both teams were tied for a total number of shots on goal (8-8), but WVU took the lead over Georgia State in corner kicks (6-3). Junior midfielder Justin Guest was able to find an opening in the net and won the MAC Semifinal for Georgia State.
Ending their regular season with a record of (12-3-6, 4-1-1) the men’s soccer team found themselves qualified to participate in the NCAA Tournament.
The Mountaineers showed how much they wanted to win during the NCAA Tournament by not giving up.
In their first game the theme of not giving up was evident against Virginia Tech.
Early in the first half, WVU Senior Forward, Ike Swiger was able to get the Mountaineers on the scoreboard setting the pace. It wasn’t until the Virginia Tech Senior Forward Jacob Labovitz was able to get a ball in goal late second half. The game stayed at 1-1, causing the game to go into double overtime where the score remained the same. The Mountaineers took the advantage over Virginia Tech in shots on goal (15-10) and corner kicks (9-4). WVU was able to excel over Virginia Tech over penalty kicks where they won them 4-3 and won their first found matchup in the NCAA Tournament.
A week later the Mountaineers found themselves in another match at the Hurricane Soccer & Track Stadium against Tusla. Both teams were pushed each other leaving everything they had on the field. The Mountaineers took the lead over Tusla in both shots on goal (10-8) and corner kicks (6-4). The game went into double overtime where freshman midfielder, Otto Ollikainen was able to get a good touch on the ball and take the win for WVU.
WVU then reached the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 1981.
The Mountaineers had to pack their bags and travel to the Shaw Field in Washington, D.C. where they would play in the NCAA Quarterfinal against Georgetown. WVU Senior Forward, Yoran Popovic was able to set the tone for the Mountaineers in the 16th-minute when he scored the first goal of the game.
The player’s going back and forth on the field, both teams were not giving up anytime soon. Georgetown (18-2-1) was able to make the score equal during the 67th minute, causing there to be a penalty kick-off between the two teams.
Georgetown was able to take the advantage over the Mountaineers in PK’s (4-1) taking the win. The Hoyas ended with an advantage in shots on goal (15-11) and in corner kicks (5-2) over WVU.
The Mountaineers were seeded No. 11 in the NCAA Tournament, marking the first time they’ve earned a national seed in the event since 2007.
Many awards were given to the WVU players to give recognition to their amazing performances. Four Mountaineers earned All-MAC recognition, as junior midfielder Luke McCormick was placed on the conference’s first team, while fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris, fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky and sophomore forward Ciro Bourlot Jaeggi were picked for the second team.
Redshirt sophomore defender Barne Thiesen was named to the United Soccer Coaches All-America Third Team. Morris and sophomore midfielder Ryan Baer were all-region selections, as well.
West Virginia finished the season at No. 8 in the country, following the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 rankings.
“I’m just so proud of our player’s effort, the courage that they’ve shown all season but particularly in these big games on these big occasions. They haven’t backed down, they haven’t been passive or gone into their show. They’ve been incredibly brave and I’m really really proud of my team.” West Virginia head coach Dan Stratford said after the season came to an end.