The West Virginia University men’s soccer team fell to Northern Illinois, 4-2, on Friday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Despite earning a season-high 15 corner kicks and eight shots on goal, the Mountaineers conceded three times in the second half, proving to be costly in the home setback. With the loss, WVU dropped to 6-6-1 on the season, including 0-2 in Mid-American Conference play.
“It’s so disappointing in regard to how we concede our goals,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We gift opponents’ goals. We literally passed the ball right to them on two of their goals today, and our goalkeeper misplayed one on a third goal. Today was about as great as what we’ve played all season long (offensively), but the way we concede goals is absolute shameful.”
WVU was sharp out of the gate and nearly tallied a breakthrough in the second minute of action when senior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino fired a shot that was tipped away by the NIU goalkeeper. The Mountaineers’ early attack continued, dominating possession and registering four shots, including two on goal, in the opening 20 minutes of action.
Then, the Huskies (6-7-1, 1-1 MAC) struck in the 32nd minute when a headed ball at midfield off a goal kick created an open chance for a charging NIU attacker to make it 1-0. WVU needed just 50 seconds to get the goal back, however, as freshman forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera bagged his sixth goal of the season off a loose ball in front of goal. Sophomore forward Tony Pineda got the play started on a dangerous ball sent in near-post.
The match remained even at 1 until the halftime whistle blew.
In the second half, Northern Illinois grabbed its second lead of the contest on a 2-on-1 opportunity that saw junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky make an initial save before the Huskies pounced on a rebound and sent the ball into the back of the net in the 54th minute.
West Virginia had another answer, though. In the 66th, senior defender Ryan Kellogg headed in his first goal of the year off a cross sent into the box by senior defender Albert Andres-Llop to level the match at 2.
The Huskies took a 3-2 lead in the 71st minute, before WVU looked to draw even again. Muriel Albino fired from outside the 18-yard box, but the chance was saved by Northern Illinois.
Muriel Albino finished with five shots on the night, including two on goal.
NIU’s final tally of the evening came in the 89th minute on a breakaway to secure the conference victory. The Mountaineers outshot the Huskies, 19-8, including 8-6 in shots on goal. WVU also held a 15-2 edge in corner kicks.
Five different Mountaineers finished with multiple shots in the loss. Robles Grajera led the way with a career-high four shots on goal, marking the first time a WVU player has tallied at least four shots on goal in a match since Muriel Albino posted four on Oct. 2, 2018, against Binghamton.
With Friday’s win, the Huskies now lead the all-time series over the Mountaineers, 4-3-2.
Next up, the Mountaineers travel to Washington, D.C., for their final nonconference match of the 2019 campaign against American on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Kickoff at the Eagles’ Reeves Field is set for 2 p.m. ET.