It was a tough weekend on the road for football of all sorts at West Virginia. In addition to the bad outcome against Baylor in the American version, both WVU’s men’s and women’s soccer teams suffered defeats.
On the men’s side, the fourth-ranked Mountaineers were shut out by Northern Illinois, 2-0, while the women dropped a double-overtime 2-1 decision to Kansas.
The men’s team conceded a 35th-minute goal before the Huskies added a second in the final minutes of the fixture, handing WVU its first loss of the 2021 campaign. It marked the club’s first setback since April 7, 2021, at Akron.
“I think we can learn from the nature of which the game played out,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “We were out-competed in the first half. We knew (NIU) would be aggressive and energized for this game, and they showed a greater appetite for it in the first half than we did. We showed some courage in the second half and improved, but again, we haven’t been able to find a goal when we really needed it.”
WVU (6-1-4, 0-1-1 MAC) tallied just one shot in the first half. Meanwhile, Northern Illinois (10-1, 2-0 MAC) brought some early pressure into the final third, forcing fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky into a pair of early saves.
The Huskies opened the scoring in the 35th minute when the hosts pounced on a loose ball inside the box off a corner kick. It was the first time West Virginia trailed at any point in a match this season.
The Huskies led, 1-0, after 45 minutes.
In the second half, the Mountaineers created two scoring chances in the 49th minute, as senior forward Tony Pineda and sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks each put a shot on goal. Perhaps WVU’s best scoring opportunity of the day, however, came in the 68th minute. That’s when redshirt sophomore defender Bjarne Thiesen nearly tied the game on a shot sent toward the back post, which was shoved away by the NIU keeper.
The Huskies went on to score their second goal in the 88th minute to take a 2-0 lead and close the door on a potential Mountaineer comeback. NIU held a 9-6 advantage in shots on the day, including 6-3 in shots on goal. WVU recorded eight corner kicks, to NIU’s four.
In goal, Tekesky made four saves, while Crooks led the way with a pair of shots, including one on goal.
The loss snapped West Virginia’s season-opening, 10-match unbeaten streak, which was the longest to open a year in program history. Overall, WVU hadn’t lost a match in 12 straight contests, dating back to the 2020-21 season, prior to Saturday’s result.
“Now, we have to respond,” Stratford said. “It still has been an excellent start to the season, and everything is still in our control. In my experience, these moments of adversity are the best moments to teach. It can be hard to stay process-oriented when you’re winning. So, I hope that we can now get that hunger and ambition back that we had at the start of the season.”
The Mountaineers fell to 5-5-2 all-time against Northern Illinois, including 2-3-1 in DeKalb. The team also fell to 1-1-2 on the road this season.
Next up, WVU continues its four-match road trip by traveling to Western Michigan for its second straight Mid-American Conference fixture on Saturday, Oct. 16, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. ET.
* * * * * *
The No. 9-ranked women’s team went into overtime but yielded a goal late in their 2-1 loss.
For the second straight contest, WVU (8-3-2) was on the board first, but allowed an opposing tally just minutes later. Senior forward Lauren Segalla netted her sixth goal of the season in the seventh minute, but Kansas added a score of its own in the 14th. In the remainder of the match, neither team managed to find the back of the net, sending it into overtime. The game remained tied until the 110th minute, when the Jayhawks tallied the go-ahead and game-winning score.
“This one is obviously tough,” WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “This one hurts, and unfortunately it was another one where we couldn’t finish all of our chances. We were consistently knocking at an opportunity to score and had a great effort today, but unfortunately Kansas was able to capitalize on one of our mistakes.”
The Mountaineers struck early, scoring in the seventh minute of the contest. A well-placed ball from freshman forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran found McCarthy, who then passed it to Segalla in the middle of the 18-yard box. On her own with a KU defender, Segalla dodged the lone Jayhawk to put an easy strike into the net. However, West Virginia allowed a quick score from Kansas to tie things up at the 15-minute mark.
Following the KU goal, the two teams struggled to get their offenses going. WVU added a shot on goal from Segalla and junior defender Gabrielle Robinson, but beyond that, there wasn’t much going for either squad, and the teams took the tie into the locker room.
Out of the half, WVU tallied three shots early, but each was off target and the match went on. Throughout the rest of regulation, West Virginia’s offensive pressure mounted, but the squad couldn’t manage to find the back of the net. The Mountaineers’ biggest opportunity of the match came on a free kick from about 25 yards out. Senior defender Jordan Brewster got the ball inside to sophomore forward/midfielder AJ Rodriguez, but the ensuing pass just missed an open freshman defender Lisa Schöppl. Despite four WVU shots inside the final 10 minutes, the Mountaineers couldn’t find the back of the net and the match went into overtime.
In the first overtime period, WVU earned the first quality look, as freshman forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran dribbled up the near side and found senior forward Isabella Sibley waiting inside the box. However, Sibley’s shot sailed over the net, and the game went on to a second overtime. The second and final overtime saw a lot of back-and-forth action, as both teams tried desperately to find the back of the net. It wasn’t until the final minute of the match that the KU attack broke down WVU’s back line, creating an open look for the game-winning goal.
Despite the loss, West Virginia once again held distinct advantages in shots (18-7) and corner kicks (8-1), while the squad narrowly edged KU in shots on goal (5-4). Junior goalkeeper Kayza Massey added a pair of saves, while KU keeper Emilie Gavillet saved four WVU shots.
With the loss, the Mountaineers fell to 8-3-1 all-time against the Jayhawks, while they also tallied their first loss to KU in Lawrence. Playing in its second straight overtime contest, WVU fell to 30-21-58 in overtime games. Additionally, West Virginia’s back-to-back double overtime matches at Kansas State (Oct. 7) and Kansas (Oct. 10), marked the first time the squad has played in two or more consecutive overtime games since 2018, when the Mountaineers played three in a row (Aug. 19-26).
Up next, the Mountaineers return home for a big match against No. 13 TCU on Thursday, Oct. 14. The contest is slated to begin at 7 p.m. ET, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.