MORGANTOWN, W. Va — A wild own goal was the difference on Thursday as No. 6 West Virginia held off Robert Morris in its season opener 1-0 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Yutaro Tsukada made his debut and left an immediate impact for the Mountaineers in the first half, sending a high-powered shot off the crossbar in the 36th minute. The ball fell down on the grounded RMU goalkeeper Friedrich Petrelli, off his back and into the net for the game-winner.
The score was due after a matter of time for WVU, which dominated the first half’s tempo and possession. The Mountaineers struggled to turn that momentum into goals as they attempted to assert their power on the Colonials.
“Yeah, I didn’t think we were patient enough, especially in the second half,” Stratford said. “I thought we were in too much of a hurry to try and score.”
WVU mustered eight shots, four of which were on target, but held Robert Morris to just two shots throughout the game.
Jackson Lee made his first start for West Virginia in the goalkeeper spot. He was challenged just once in the contest, but his coach felt he still made a strong impact on the game.
“The further the game is from him, the easier it is to switch off, but his start positions, his management in that regard was perfect,” Stratford said. “So whether he has 10 saves to make or two saves to make, he can still have a perfect game and he was pretty close to that tonight.”
WVU has a quick turnaround as it prepares for its first road trip of the season, a Backyard Brawl clash with No. 7 Pittsburgh on Monday. This is will be a rematch of an impactful fixture in 2021, when WVU hosted the Panthers, who were ranked No. 3 at the time, and snatched a 2-1 upset.
That turned out to be a key victory for WVU’s meteoric rise from unranked to No. 5 in the polls.
“We’ve got to be just as reslient for sure. The early indications are that it’s a very, very strong Pittsburgh team that we’ll play on Monday night,” Stratford said. “Again, if there’s one thing we can keep from last year, it was how well we showed up against big time opponents. We did it every single time last year.”
Kickoff between No. 6 WVU and No. 7 Pitt is set for 7 p.m. ET at Ambrose Urbanic Field.