Junior defender Kevin Morris scored the game-winning goal in the 96th minute to send the No. 20-ranked West Virginia University men’s soccer team home with a 2-1, overtime win over Cincinnati on Tuesday night at Gettler Stadium.
The Mt. Airy, Maryland, native got his head on a pass sent in by freshman midfielder Luke McCormick to finish off the come-from-behind Mountaineer victory.
The Mountaineers finished with 15 shots on the night, including 12 after halftime.
“Kevin has been champing at the bit to get his head on one in the penalty area, and he’s been close a couple of times already this year,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “He leaped over the goalkeeper and won a fantastic header. It’s nice to see him finally get the goal and hopefully it’ll open up more for him.”
WVU (4-1-1) conceded an early goal when Cincinnati (1-5) struck first on a goal headed in from the far post in the 19th minute on a play that was set up by a long throw in. From there, junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky stepped up to make multiple key saves to keep the deficit at one before the half.
The Mountaineers tallied three shots in the opening 45 minutes but couldn’t create a chance to level the score.
In the second half, though, WVU’s offensive attack came alive. First, senior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino registered the equalizer in the 49th minute when he fired a shot past the shoulder of the Bearcats’ keeper off an indirect free kick. The goal was the Sevilla, Spain, native’s team-leading third of the year.
From there, WVU’s pace continued to develop, creating several opportunities to push ahead. In the 79th minute, junior midfielder Tsubasa Takada recorded a shot on goal, but it was pushed away.
After Tekesky made the last of his four saves on the night in the 86th minute, McCormick sent a shot wide in the 89th to send the match into overtime.
WVU earned three corner kicks in the overtime period, including one that nearly ended the match. A loose ball inside the box in the 94th minute was cleared away before Morris won it with his header two minutes later. The tally was his second career game-winner.
“The turnaround, the change, the tempo in the second half was at another level of expectation for this team,” LeBlanc said. “We went forward with numbers, we defended better as a pack, we did a much better job in terms of execution our game plan and finding a way to get a result.”
Tuesday’s win marked the Mountaineers’ first overtime victory since a 4-3 win over Northern Illinois on Oct. 3, 2018. It also pushed WVU’s all-time record against the Bearcats to 7-0.
WVU held a 15-11 advantage in shots, including a 6-5 edge in shots on goal. UC earned six corner kicks to West Virginia’s four.
Next up, the Mountaineers return home to take on Dayton on Saturday, Sept. 21. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is set for 7 p.m.