The West Virginia University men’s soccer team concluded the 2019 regular season with a 1-0 loss to Akron on Thursday, Nov. 7, at a cold, rainy Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.
Despite holding a 12-5 advantage in shots, including 4-1 in shots on goal, the Mountaineers were unable to find the back of the net against the visitors. A 72nd-minute goal by the Zips was the difference in the WVU setback.
“Akron is a good team; they scored a good goal,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “At the end of the day, they had one shot on goal and scored on it. That’s been the story of our season. We’ve been really, really good all season long, but I just said to the guys that there are no moral victories.
“I don’t think our record is reflective of the team we are. We are seriously shorthanded at the moment, but we don’t take any excuses from it. Our guys played great tonight, we’ve played great even during this stretch of losing. We’ve just been incredibly unlucky.”
The two teams combined for just three total shots in the opening 30 minutes of the match, before senior forward Ethan Shim fired the night’s first shot on goal in the 34th. Just before the half, sophomore forward Tony Pineda had a great chance at a goal, as he found himself loose inside the box. The Statesville, North Carolina, native’s attempt was cleared off the line for a Zips’ team save.
WVU and Akron remained scoreless after 45 minutes.
The hosts created two more dangerous chances to start the second half in the 53rd minute. First, Pineda had another shot saved, before Shim headed one over the bar.
Freshman midfielder Luke McCormick was next up in an effort to find the Mountaineers (6-8-2, 0-4-1 MAC) a breakthrough. However, his free-kick attempt in the 66th minute sailed high.
Then, Akron (6-9-2, 4-0-1 MAC) took the 1-0 lead in the 73rd on a header goal from a ball sent into the box. The attempt was the Zips’ lone shot on goal all evening.
Trailing, the Mountaineers continued to press forward on their offensive end. WVU nearly found the equalizer in the 84th minute off a corner kick that created a large scrum in front of the goal. Junior defender Kevin Morris struck a header off the post, which created a frenzy between both sides.
Still, West Virginia was denied a match-tying goal, just minutes before the clock reached the fulltime.
Akron held a 7-2 edge in corner kicks, but committed 22 fouls, to WVU’s nine. Pineda led the way for the Mountaineers with his two shots on goal and was one of four WVU players to finish with multiple shot attempts. West Virginia outshot Akron, 5-2, in the first half and 7-3 in the second.
Prior to the match, WVU recognized the contributions of its seven-man senior class in honor of Senior Night. Thursday’s contest marked the final home match for defender Albert Andres-Llop, midfielder Pascal Derwaritsch, defender Sebastian Garcia-Herreros, midfielder/defender Ryan Kellogg, defender Logan Lucas, midfielder Andres Muriel Albino and Shim.
Up next, WVU begins postseason play with a quarterfinal match in the MAC Championship on Tuesday, Nov. 12. The Mountaineers’ opponent is yet to be determined.
“We’re very, very close,” LeBlanc said. “I think this team thinks we’re capable of winning the conference tournament. Hopefully, if we can do it on Tuesday, then clearly this team is capable of a run.”