The West Virginia University men’s soccer team earned a 2-1 win over No. 3 Pitt on Monday night in front of 1,316 fans at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
The Mountaineers opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a goal by junior midfielder Luke McCormick, before senior forward Adam Burchell’s 76th-minute tally proved to be the game-winner in the victory. The win marked the highest-ranked opponent West Virginia has defeated since No. 1 Connecticut on Oct. 18, 2011.
“We never questioned if this group had enough quality and depth – it’s about doing it when it really counts on a big night like tonight,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said.
“This was one of the most exciting crowds that I’ve been a part of. I remember playing in this type of atmosphere, and it makes a huge difference. You saw some of that passion and energy come out in our players, as well.”
WVU (2-0) opened the scoring with a hard-fought first goal midway through the first half. In front of the Pitt net, senior forward Yoran Popovic’s tackle freed the ball away from the Panther goalkeeper, allowing McCormick to pounce and bury the shot to make it 1-0. The score line held until the first-half horn sounded.
Pitt (1-1), though, scored quickly in the second half with a 50th-minute goal to tie the match at 1.
From there, the Panthers nearly took the lead in the 67th minute, before fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky was able to get a fingertip on a Pitt shot attempt to keep the contest even. That came four minutes after sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks found himself in front of goal before being denied inside the 6-yard box.
Tekesky finished with two saves on the night.
In the 76th minute, the Mountaineers took the lead for good. After a ball was played wide to redshirt sophomore defender Kyle Lehnert, sophomore midfielder Ryan Baer’s chip into the box was met by a header from Burchell and into the back of the net to give West Virginia a 2-1 advantage.
The tally was the first of Burchell’s WVU career.
Then, the Mountaineers were able to fight off their Backyard Brawl rivals in the final minutes of the match to improve to 35-10-5 all-time against the Panthers, including 19-4-3 at home. Pitt outshot WVU, 13-10, in the fixture, while the Mountaineers had a 6-3 edge in shots on goal. The Panthers also tallied nine corner kicks, to WVU’s three.
Popovic led the way for WVU with three shots in the win, including two on goal. McCormick and Baer registered a pair of shots each.
With the win, West Virginia improved to 14-4 in home openers since Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium opened in 2004. What’s more, WVU has now won six consecutive home openers in Morgantown.
Additionally, WVU has now defeated a top-25 opponent in 14 of the last 16 seasons. The squad also has 16 top-15 wins in the last 15 years, including 12 top-10 victories.
Up next, the Mountaineers play host to their second top-15 opponent of the week, as No. 11 Penn State travels to Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Friday, Sept. 3. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.