The No. 9 West Virginia University men's soccer team opened the season with a 2-1 victory over Hartford on Saturday evening in the WVU Nike Classic. The crowd of 1,786 was the fifth highest to ever witness a men's soccer match at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
The game was physical from the start with the teams accumulating 41 fouls, seven yellow cards and three red cards. Hartford coach Tom Poitras and defender Damion Lowe were ejected in the 24th minutes and 81st minute, respectively, while WVU freshman Ryan Cain was issued a red card in the 85th minute.
"We looked like it was our first game in 10 months," coach Marlon LeBlanc says. "For the most part I thought we really were the team that tried to play tonight. The problem was we just made a couple of mistakes on counter attacks and we need to keep driving into them to follow game plans."
Senior Travis Pittman gave WVU the early 1-0 lead, while senior Peabo Doue scored the game-winner in the 77th minute, leading the Mountaineers to victory.
Doue's score was sparked by junior Craig Stephens, who played a ball to senior Uwem Etuk in space. Etuk gathered the ball and sent it through to Doue, who took a chip shot from 15-yards out that went over the sprawling goalkeeper and into the upper 90 of the right side.
Pittman gave WVU the early lead in the 20th minute for the first goal of the 2012 season. Senior Shadow Sebele initiated the sequence by playing a ball from the center of the field to Cain deep in the left side of Hartford's zone. Cain one-touched the ball to Doue, who followed with a cross to a streaking Pittman. Pittman was able to get his head on it, placing it behind the Hartford keeper into the net.
WVU (1-0-0) took 14 shots compared to Hartford's (0-1-0) eight, while WVU also led in the corner kick category, 6-1.
Pittman led all players with four shots, including three on-goal. Doue recorded three shots, while sophomore Andy Bevin finished with two. David Bernhardsson led the Hawks with three shots.
Connor Yeaney scored the game-tying goal for Hartford in the 29th minute after a set piece about 35 yards out in front of the West Virginia bench. Bernhardsson sent the free kick to the back post, where Yeaney was positioned to head the ball in the far right corner of the net.
Senior goalkeeper Pat Eavenson made three saves in the winning effort for WVU, while Hartford keeper Viltsu Tuumi made four stops.
WVU's best non-scoring chance came in the 79th minute when a frenzy in front of the net broke out that left WVU senior Eric Schoenle on the ground on the goal line. The loose ball came to Doue, who kicked it right into Schoenle. Cain got the rebound and slotted in the net, but Schoenle was offside.
Etuk took WVU's first shot of the season just 33 seconds in the match, ripping the ball over the Hartford net.
The Mountaineers close out the WVU Nike Classic with a match against Stetson on Monday, Aug. 27, at 1 p.m. Stetson fell at Penn State, 3-0, earlier on Saturday evening.