MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 3-ranked West Virginia University men’s soccer team opens a four-match road trip by traveling to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for a nonconference match at Lehigh on Tuesday, Oct. 5. Kickoff at Ulrich Sports Complex is set for 7 p.m. ET.
“This matchup is important in a number of ways, but perhaps none bigger than getting us started on a long road trip in a positive direction,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “Being able to open this part of the schedule with a big result would go a long way for us, especially with so many games still ahead and coming quickly.”
Tuesday marks the first-ever meeting between the Mountaineers (6-0-3, 0-0-1 MAC) and Mountain Hawks (1-8-1, 1-3-0 Patriot). WVU is 10-11-5 against current members of the Patriot League, including 0-0-1 this season. West Virginia played to a 0-0 draw against Loyola (Maryland) on Sept. 6, in Morgantown.
Lehigh is the first of three first-time opponents for the Mountaineers this season. WVU also will take on Kentucky (Oct. 19) and Georgia Southern (Oct. 28) for the first time in 2021.
West Virginia is coming off a 0-0 draw against Akron on Sept. 30, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium to open Mid-American Conference play. WVU held an 11-7 advantage in shots, as well as 5-1 in shots on goal. Additionally, WVU held an 8-2 edge over the Zips in corner kicks.
Following the result, the Mountaineers have earned clean sheets in each of their last three games. The squad is attempting to tally four shutouts in a row for the first time since Sept. 13-26, 2008.
WVU’s nine-match unbeaten streak to start the season is tied for the longest to open a year in program history. It’s also the first time the squad has avoided a setback in its first nine matches of the year since 1968.
The Mountaineers were placed at No. 3 in last week’s United Soccer Coaches Men’s Division I Poll, good for the highest ranking by the organization in program history. This week’s poll is due out on Tuesday afternoon.
Elsewhere, WVU stayed at No. 3 in the College Soccer News poll and moved up two spots to No. 7 in the latest TopDrawerSoccer poll, which were both released on Monday.
Individually, fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky enters the week ranked No. 3 in the nation in shutouts (6) and No. 7 nationally in goals against average (.414). Last week, the Raymore, Missouri, native was named one of 30 candidates for the 2021 Senior CLASS Award. It marked the first time a Mountaineer appeared on the prestigious list since Jamie Merriam in 2015.
Stratford enters Tuesday’s fixture with a 73-7-9 record as a head coach, including 12-3-4 with the Mountaineers. What’s more, WVU is 8-0-2 in nonconference matches in the Stratford era.
Lehigh is led by 30th-year coach Dean Koski, who is 249-219-68 during his time in Bethlehem. The Mountain Hawks enter Tuesday’s fixture with a 1-8-1 mark on the season, including 1-3 in Patriot League play. Last time out, Lehigh topped Army, 2-1, on Oct. 2, at home.
The Mountain Hawks last won the Patriot League in 2019. The squad also appeared in the NCAA Tournament that season.
Josh Luchini leads the club in several offensive categories: goals (2), assists (2), points (6), shots (29) and shots on goal (9). The squad has totaled seven goals in its 10 matches in 2021.