As MAC action resumes, WVU men’s soccer hopes to maintain momentum

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium has been a fortress for the Mountaineers as of late, but will it stay that way as the men’s soccer program resumes MAC play against Western Michigan? 

Head coach Dan Stratford and the Mountaineers are coming off a 1-0 upset over No. 8 Marshall last week, a victory that was followed by a triumph for the women’s team over No. 5 Duke. 

Stratford said the team is still riding high following its win over its in-state rival. 

“Hopefully a good feeling, a positive feeling, a lot of confidence to take from the Marshall game,” Stratford said. 

After some schedule shuffling due to COVID concerns at Akron, the MAC bumped up West Virginia’s rematch with Western Michigan to Wednesday at 4 p.m. The Broncos bested the Mountaineers in the previous meeting, 1-0, but that was a game that could have gone either way. 

“We actually felt like it was probably our best performance of the season, but the wrong side of the result,” Stratford said. “We’ll try and take the positives from that performance and remind the guys that there’s no guarantee this will be the same type of game. We need to make sure that we’re not naive to think that we’ll have as much possession or the dominance we had at their place, and we’ll need to earn it all over again.” 

West Virginia (4-2, 2-2) has only conceded in two matches this season: first in that loss to Western Michigan, then again to Bowling Green in a 1-0 loss in the following contest. The Mountaineers have won all of their other games in shutout fashion — a trend Stratford would love to see continue. 

“For as long as we continue to keep clean sheets, I think we’ll continue to have some pretty good results,” Stratford said. “It’s not just the back-three. There’s a whole collective effort from the team, and everyone knows there’s an expectation and a role defensively. But, I also believe that, if you’re the team with the ball, it’s very difficult for the opponent to score, so we want to improve in those areas.” 

After playing four matches in the last two weeks, the Mountaineers also enjoyed an extended break, as Sunday’s rematch with Bowling Green was postponed. That rest could help WVU against the Broncos. 

“It really wasn’t a terrible time for us to get a break,” Stratford said. “Having said that, we would have much rather played and continued that momentum that we had, and now we’ll look to the end of the season here, where we’re gonna have a busy schedule and kind of run the gauntlet, if you will, to finish things off here in the MAC.” 

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