MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU men’s soccer took care of business against South Carolina in the Sun Belt semifinal Wednesday night, setting up a Mountain State Derby rematch in the conference championship.
The Mountaineers (14-1-4, 6-1-3 Sun Belt) defeated the Gamecocks (6-9-3, 3-4-2 Sun Belt) 2-0 in Orlando, and top-seeded Marshall knocked off Kentucky to set up the final that will take place in Huntington Sunday.
The win also marked Dan Stratford’s 100th win as a head coach.
WVU didn’t have many scoring chances in the first half, but the Mountaineers capitalized on their best one. In the game’s 13th minute, fifth-year midfielder Luke McCormick boxed out a defender near the flag in the South Carolina zone before fielding a loose ball and tucking a shot into the corner past Gamecocks’ goal keeper Ben Alexander off the right foot for the first goal of the game.
That was WVU’s only shot on goal in the first period. Mountaineer keeper Jackson Lee recorded two saves in the game’s first 45 minutes.
McCormick nearly found twine again in the 47th minute, but his left-footed shot hit off the left post for WVU’s second shot on goal of the game.
Already up 1-0, the Mountaineers earned their own luck in the 51st minute when a seemingly-noncompetitive shot from sophomore forward Marcus Caldeira deflected off the arm of a South Carolina defender. The violation occurred in the box, and WVU was awarded a penalty kick.
Junior forward Yutaro Tsukada drilled home the penalty kick in to extend WVU’s lead to a game-clinching 2-0 advantage.
Lee recorded his eighth shutout of the season Wednesday night.
In a simultaneously occurring game in Huntington, No. 1 Marshall defeated Kentucky 3-0 to advance to the conference championship.
Sunday’s Sun Belt final will be a rematch of last month’s Mountain State Derby in which WVU dethroned top-ranked Marshall 5-2 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET, but it is also subject to change.