WVU Mens Soccer Begins Season With Top 25 Ranking

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    The No. 20/23-ranked West Virginia University men’s soccer team opened preseason practice on Tuesday morning at the Men’s Soccer Practice Facility.

    The reigning Mid-American Conference regular-season champion Mountaineers began the first of 17 days of preparation leading up to the 2019 season opener at Monmouth, on Friday, Aug. 30, in Monmouth, New Jersey. Along with the squad’s first practice, a strength training session and preseason testing were also scheduled for Tuesday.

    “It’s obviously great to see the guys again,” said Marlon LeBlanc, who enters his 14th year at the helm. “It’s great to be back and spending time with them. This is a pretty experienced group that we have coming back, so they know the process and the protocols and the testing that we look to do. The guys have come in with a fantastic attitude and it was nice to get them back out onto the pitch today as well.”

    The Mountaineers are coming off a 14-win campaign last season, including a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play. WVU made its 13th trip to the NCAA Tournament in program history, and it advanced to the second round for the first time since 2011 and seventh time overall. West Virginia finished No. 3 in the nation in assists per game (2.43), No. 5 in total assists (51), No. 7 in total points (135) and No. 10 in points per game (6.43) and total goals (42) last season.

    WVU’s 29-man roster includes 13 players who played in at least eight games in 2018 and nine who started at least 15 times last fall. The Mountaineers also return 29 of their 41 goals scored from a year ago, including senior defender Pascal Derwaritsch and senior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino, who tied for second on the team with six goals each.

    Junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky also returns this season after starting all 21 matches and logging 1,892 minutes for the Mountaineers in 2018. Last fall, the All-MAC First Team selection finished No. 11 in the country in total saves (86).

    Senior defender Albert Andres-Llop, Derwaritsch, senior defender Ryan Kelloggand Muriel Albino joined Tekesky in garnering all-conference honors last season. All four were named to the All-MAC Second Team.

    In all, seven seniors – Andres-Llop, Derwaritsch, midfielder Sebastian Garcia-Herreros, Kellogg, midfielder Logan Lucas, Muriel Albino and midfielder Ethan Shim – are set to lead the Mountaineers into the new campaign. The team also is set to welcome 13 newcomers this fall.

    The Mountaineers are scheduled to compete in three exhibition matches this month. The action begins when the Mountaineers host Virginia Tech on Friday, Aug. 16, at 4 p.m. ET, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, before the annual Gold/Blue Intrasquad commences on Aug. 19, at 7 p.m.

    WVU hits the road for its preseason finale, which is set for Aug. 24, at Mount St. Mary’s. Kickoff in Emmitsburg, Maryland, is set for 2 p.m.

    West Virginia hosts nine home matches in 2019, highlighted by three MAC matches against Western Michigan, Northern Illinois and 2018 Men’s College Cup runner-up Akron. The home slate, which kicks off against Wright State, on Sept. 7, also features 2018 NCAA Tournament qualifier Charlotte, Coastal Carolina, Dayton, Penn and San Diego.

    WVU will play eight road matches, including fixtures against Bowling Green, SIU Edwardsville, Ohio State and North Carolina, among others.

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