HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia University men’s soccer team fell to No. 11-seeded Marshall, 2-1, in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Sunday afternoon at Hoops Family Field in Huntington, West Virginia.
The Mountaineers conceded an early goal in the 10th minute before responding with a tally by senior defender Logan Lucas in the 39th. Less than four minutes later, however, the Thundering Herd found a second goal, which proved to be the difference in WVU’s first loss since Nov. 7.
With the loss, West Virginia ends the 2019 season with a 10-9-2 mark.
“I’d like to congratulate Marshall, who is an excellent team,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “It was a fantastic effort on the day from them, so we tip our hats to them. From our standpoint, we looked like a team that was playing its fifth game in 13 days. We looked gassed, and it showed a little bit in our press, which has been one of the best things we can do as a team.
“That said, we were in the game right until the bitter end. I’m proud of my team; our guys fought hard. We’ve put on about 2,000 miles in the last two weeks, and along the way, we won a championship and shocked everybody with what we did at Butler three days ago.”
After earning a 5-1 win at Butler in the NCAA Tournament First Round on Nov. 21, WVU fought off early pressure by the hosts right out of the gate on Sunday, with the Herd (16-2-3) hitting the crossbar in the sixth minute and registering a pair of corner kicks. Then, Marshall, which made its NCAA Tournament debut on Sunday, opened the scoring in the 10th minute to make it 1-0.
Two minutes later, junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky made a big save to keep the deficit at one. The Raymore, Missouri, native used to his body to get in front of a shot from inside the 6-yard box.
WVU got its first look on the day in the 15th minute when senior defender Albert Andres-Llop fired a shot into the chest of the Marshall goalkeeper on a free kick. Freshman midfielder Luke McCormick also tallied a shot in the 18th minute, but the chance fell well wide.
In the 39th, the Mountaineers found their equalizer, thanks a header goal from Lucas off a corner kick. The tally was the first of the season for Lucas, while Andres-Llop bagged his sixth assist of the year.
Then, Marshall grabbed the lead right back on a corner-kick goal of its own. That made it 2-1 with just two minutes to play until halftime.
In the second half, Tekesky made easy work on his second save of the day in the 52nd minute, controlling a one-hop ball that was sent into him. That led to another big chance by Andres-Llop in the 64th. The Castellon, Spain, native came up just wide on a free kick to maintain the score line.
Andres-Llop registered another shot in the 87th, which was sent high, before junior midfielder Tsubasa Takada nearly tied it in the 88th. That, though, proved to be the Mountaineers’ final flurry in the season-ending setback.
Marshall outshot WVU, 11-8, including 4-2 in shots on goal. The Herd also held an 11-4 edge on corners. Andres-Llop led the way with three shots for WVU, while Tekesky finished with two saves.
The loss dropped West Virginia to 7-14 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Sunday marked the 22nd meeting between WVU and Marshall but the first since 2004. WVU leads the all-time series, 15-6-1.
WVU won its first Mid-American Conference Tournament championship in program history this season, earning the league’s automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The squad advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and eighth time in program history.