Men’s soccer falls in MAC opener

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The West Virginia University men’s soccer team opened Mid-American Conference play with a 3-1 loss to Western Michigan on Sunday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

The Mountaineers received a goal from freshman forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera in the 84th minute to cut the deficit to one, but the squad was unable to produce any further damage in the contest. The setback snapped WVU’s six-match MAC regular-season win streak, which dated back to the 2017 campaign.

“Right now, we’re in a rut with injuries and in a rut with consistency in our group and in a rut in terms of our performances and the lack of consistency in our performances,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We have to get back to finding that. We got out-worked and out-competed today on our own field again, and I have to find a way to recharge this group and get them back to some humility and what it means to be a West Virginia soccer player.”

WVU (6-5-1, 0-1 MAC) tallied a pair of shots on goal in the opening 11 minutes of the match but neither provided an early breakthrough. From there, the Mountaineers conceded an own goal on a tricky ball that was played to the back post in the 15th minute to give the Broncos (8-4, 1-0 MAC) an early 1-0 lead.

Trailing by a goal, senior defender Albert Andres-Llop took a crack at goal on a free kick in the 28th minute, but the chance was saved by the WMU keeper. Two minutes later, junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky followed suit, registering a beauty of a save in the 30th minute. Following a Bronco free kick, Tekesky was able to tap a header just over the bar to keep the match at 1-0.

The Raymore, Missouri, native finished with five saves on the day.

In the second half, Western Michigan added to its lead in the 60th minute to make it 2-0. The Mountaineers, though, continued to look for the final piece in their offensive attack to spark a comeback attempt.

Robles Grajera’s goal came in the 84th minute when he volleyed home a cross sent in by Andres-Llop. The goal was the Burgos, Spain, native’s fifth of the season and got WVU to within a goal at 2-1.

Robles Grajera led the Mountaineers with two shots on goal on Sunday.

Three minutes later, however, the Broncos put the finishing touches on their road victory when a WMU attacker broke loose and scored a 1-on-1 goal by tapping in a rebound off Tekesky.

Western Michigan outshot the Mountaineers, 10-6, including 8-5 in shots on goal. The Broncos also held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.

The loss was WVU’s first in conference play since Oct. 27, 2017, against Akron. The Broncos were WVU’s eighth opponent in the last 10 matches to enter with a winning record.

Next up, West Virginia returns to action by hosting Northern Illinois on Friday, Oct. 18. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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