No. 3 West Virginia men’s soccer opened its MAC slate with a 0-0 draw with Akron on Thursday at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Akron and West Virginia played evenly in the first half, although the Mountaineers had an edge in shots and a slight edge in possession at the break. They took control of the match in the second half, though, launching five shots toward the Zip net. Akron added four of their own, but WVU keeper Steven Tekesky had to make just one save in regulation.
The Zips brought the press to Morgantown and disrupted WVU, a team that normally likes to play aggressively and control the tempo. That hampered much of the Mountaineers’ build-up play, which typically starts from the back.
WVU nearly stole the match in the final minutes of the second half, earning four corner kicks in the span of two minutes. None of them materialized a shot on net for the Mountaineers, but they did log two in subsequent attacks to test Will Meyer.
The match was largely marred by sloppy play on both sides. The squads combined for 31 fouls and seven yellow cards, while 11 attacks were stalled because of offsides calls. WVU especially tested the line judge, earning 7 offsides whistles.
“It’s welcome back to MAC conference play, right?” said WVU coach Dan Stratford. “It’s typical a little bit of the type of games we’re going to have to play, and the grit of those games.”
In all, West Virginia had the better chances, but a combination of offsides calls, Meyer’s goalkeeping and the goalposts prevented the Mountaineers from gaining the edge.
“I think we underperformed, I really do,” Stratford said. “I think we tried to be very humble and very process-oriented in terms of looking at the performance, and there were too many aspects of today that were below our standards. The work ethic was there, thankfully, the application was there, obviously, which allowed us to stay in the game for a little bit of a period there, but they posed us a different problem to other teams.”
The Mountaineers (6-0-3) remain unbeaten through nine matches. They take a short break from their league schedule on Tuesday when they travel to face Lehigh, but return to MAC play on Oct. 9 when they face Northern Illinois on the road.