The West Virginia University men’s soccer team exploded for five goals and more than 20 shots in a 5-1 win over Butler in the NCAA Tournament First Round on Thursday night at the Sellick Bowl in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Sophomore forward Josh DiMatteo and freshman forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera each scored a pair of goals in the win, while senior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino scored the game-winner for the Mountaineers, who won their fourth match in a row. The win marks the squad’s first NCAA Tournament road win since 1981.
“It was a great performance,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “Credit the players – they executed the game plan fantastically. Credit my entire staff for having this team prepared. We went out, we executed, and we had a great game plan for a very, very good Butler team that obviously deserved to be here, as well. But we were clicking tonight.”
WVU (10-8-2) dominated the host Bulldogs (11-7-2) for much of the night, holding a 21-6 advantage in shots. The Mountaineers also registered a season-best 15 shots on goal, the most since Sept. 28, 2011, against James Madison.
The Mountaineers opened the scoring less than three minutes into the match on a penalty-kick goal by Robles Grajera. After the Bulldogs recorded a hand ball inside the box, the Burgos, Spain, native converted on the first of his two goals on the night.
A few minutes later, WVU created two more big chances on a shot by senior midfielder Ryan Kellogg and a header by DiMatteo. However, Butler was able to escape without conceding, keeping the match at 1-0.
In the 21st minute, the Bulldogs found the equalizer on a goal off a corner kick. Then, Muriel Albino, who came into the match as a first-half substitute, got the Mountaineers back on top with a beauty of a goal that beat the Butler keeper far post in the 36th.
That gave West Virginia a 2-1 advantage at halftime.
In the second half, the Mountaineers came out defensive-minded, limiting Butler to many opportunities in its final third. In the 79th minute, though, junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky came up big, tallying his lone save of the evening with a diving effort to help keep the WVU lead.
Butler finished with just two shots on goal in the loss.
Moments later, West Virginia erupted with three goals in a three-and-a-half-minute span. DiMatteo tallied his first after finishing a rebound off the Butler keeper to make it 3-1 in the 81st. Then, just 39 seconds later, Robles Grajera completed his brace on a diving header goal off a saved penalty kick.
DiMatteo put on the finishing touches in the 84th minute with his second goal of the night. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native initially hit the post but cleaned up the tally with an open look to make it 5-1.
Robles Grajera now has a team-high nine goals on the year, while DiMatteo has scored four goals in the last three matches.
West Virginia’s five goals matched a season high. The squad also found the back of the net five times in a 5-2 win over then-No. 15 Coastal Carolina on Sept. 13, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.
“We refocused, reset and regenerated,” LeBlanc said. “We’ve played four games in like 10 days now, so we had to manage that properly. We quickly moved on from winning the MAC Championship. We’ll enjoy this one tonight, and we’ll quickly move on in preparation for the next round.”
West Virginia is making its 14th appearance in the NCAA Tournament in program history. The Mountaineers are now 7-13 all-time in NCAA Tournament action.
With the win, WVU will move on to the NCAA Tournament Second Round for the second consecutive season. The Mountaineers will travel to Huntington, West Virginia, for a matchup against No. 11-seeded Marshall on Sunday, Nov. 24, at Hoops Family Field. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. ET.