The West Virginia University men’s soccer team opened preseason practice on Tuesday morning at the Men’s Soccer Practice Facility in Morgantown.
The Mountaineers began preparation for their 2021 season opener at Robert Morris on Aug. 26, in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. The squad is scheduled to partake in a 16-day fall camp prior to the start of the campaign.
“It’s great to be back out here together, especially following the disappointment from the end of last spring,” said Dan Stratford, who enters his second year at the helm at WVU. “We’re preparing to get our new guys acclimated to the system and get the team as a whole ready for a competitive fall. Today is the first step in a long process in what hopes to be a really successful and productive season for our program.”
WVU is coming off a 6-3-1 mark in Stratford’s debut season in 2020-21. The group’s traditional, fall slate was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, before it took to the pitch for a spring-only campaign from February to April. The Mountaineers return all seven goal scorers from last spring, as well as 12 of 13 players who started at least five matches.
West Virginia also returns all three of its All-MAC First Team selections in fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky, senior forward Ike Swiger and junior midfielder Luke McCormick, as well as fifth-year senior midfielder Pau Jimenez Albelda and fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris, who earned All-MAC Second Team distinction. In all, the squad features six seniors and three fifth-year seniors to lead the charge into the fall.
Additionally, the Mountaineers are welcoming nine newcomers into the mix this season. The squad is set to be represented by 10 different countries in 2021.
WVU is scheduled to compete in three exhibition matches this month. The action begins when the Mountaineers play host to Duquesne on Friday, Aug. 13, at 5 p.m. ET, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, before the team hits the road for a preseason fixture at Saint Francis (Pa.) on Aug. 17, in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
West Virginia returns home for its preseason finale, which is set for Aug. 21, against Charleston, with kickoff slated for 7 p.m. Of note, both of WVU’s preseason, home contests are free and open to the public.