WVU opened Sun Belt play Friday in perhaps the toughest way possible: against a top-five foe for the second match in a row.
The Mountaineers (5-0-1) finished its 2023 conference debut with a 2-2 draw with No. 5 UCF (4-0-2).
Right on cue, WVU sophomore forward Marcus Caldeira scored his seventh goal of the season off a feed from fifth-year midfielder Luke McCormick in the second minute for a 1-0 WVU lead.
The goal tied Caldeira with four other players across the nation for the most goals scored in NCAA Division I. He led WVU with three shots and two shots-on-goal Friday.
The Mountaineers held the advantage for 20 minutes before UCF defenseman Timothy Arias and midfielder AJ Seals found forward Lucca Dourado for a one-touch goal in transition to tie things at 1-1.
WVU fifth-year right back Thomas Decottignies broke the tie in the 23rd minute when he struck an unassisted goal from the top of the UCF box off his right foot into the bottom right corner of the Knights’ net. Decottignies’ first goal of the season gave the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead.
UCF executed a perfect corner kick in the 34th minute when midfielder Saku Heiskanen found the head of defenseman Zane Bubb for the 2-2 equalizer.
Neither team scored in the physical second half in which WVU received two yellow card while UCF was issued three. Though, UCF finished the match with 12 corner kicks. The Mountaineers did not attempt a single corner kick.
WVU senior goalkeeper recorded four saves, including one in the match’s 90th minute.
Head coach Dan Stratford’s team returns to Morgantown next week for a match with Dayton (1-4-1) at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday night. WVU resumes Sun Belt play next Friday against Georgia Southern (1-3-2, 0-0 Sun Belt) at Dick Dlesk Stadium.