Dan Stratford says he would have been happy if his team started 3-2 through its first five games. Instead, his team is fifth in the nation with a 4-0-1 record after defeating Ohio State 1-0 at home in front of the second-largest crowd in WVU men’s soccer history.
The Mountaineers went ahead early. After WVU earned its first corner kick of the game, Frederik Jorgensen launched it into Kevin Morris for a header in just the third minute, who then took off into the fans on the touchline to celebrate.
West Virginia went on to dominate the field for the next 42 minutes, allowing just one shot from the Buckeyes in the totality of the first half.
Things got a little bit tougher for West Virginia as the fatigue set in, as Stratford noted. Ohio State started to threaten goal in the second half, putting three shots towards the net but putting only one on target for goalkeeper Steven Tekesky to save.
This was expected, as the Mountaineers were playing in their fourth game in two weeks.
“Internally, I think we knew it would be a struggle today, just because they put out such an incredible effort through the first four games,” Stratford said. “So today was just whatever it takes, really, of course we want to continue to be a team that plays good football, and I’d love us to be clinical enough to score the second and go on and win the game, but honestly, the only thing that really, really counted for me was that we got the dub at the end of the day.”
Morris’s score was the first of the season for the defender, and the second of the year from the back line. The Mountaineer fifth-year was humble in his assessment of the score, giving much of the credit to the service from Jorgensen.
“Just good delivery from Fred, I believe, and [I was] lucky to put it in the back of the net and celebrate with the [Mountaineer] Maniacs over there,” Morris said.
His coach, however, had a bit of a different tone, as he becomes the second defender to score this season and the eighth different Mountaineer to score one of the team’s eight goals.
“[Our defenders] are making our front players look stupid, right?” Stratford joked. “No, listen, we are a well-sized team and we knew we had a great matchup there with Ohio State. Quite honestly, we went through the lineups and they have one player at 6-foot-2 outside of the goalkeeper, so that gives us three, maybe even four players that have an uneven matchup.”
The Mountaineers get some well-needed rest after the Ohio State victory with a week ahead of their matchup with Marshall. Stratford says his team will get a few days off to recover before starting preparations for the 10th-ranked Thundering Herd on Friday.
If Marshall wins on Saturday against Bowling Green, Friday’s clash between the two in-state rivals will be one between top-ten opponents.
“How cool is that? How cool is that for the state of West Virginia, how cool is that for the awareness of soccer, for college soccer here in West Virginia?” Stratford said. “We’re expecting a huge crowd there, a hostile crowd, that will be a cool experience as well.”