Freshman forward Rodrigo Robles Grajera’s 43rd-minute goal helped the West Virginia University men’s soccer team take down SIU Edwardsville, 1-0, in the MAC Championship Quarterfinal on Tuesday night in Edwardsville, Illinois.
On a frigid evening at SIUE’s Ralph Korte Stadium, the No. 6-seeded Mountaineers tallied the contest’s lone goal, before fighting off the third-seeded Cougars in the second half to earn a trip to Friday’s MAC Semifinals in Akron, Ohio.
“For a number of weeks here, we’ve been playing well and haven’t gotten the result, and today we came on the road, played well enough and got the result,” WVU coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “At this stage of the season, it’s knockout football, and we’ve advanced to where we think we should’ve been from the start. We’re looking forward to moving on in the MAC Tournament.”
Robles Grajera scored his team-leading seventh goal of the campaign just moments before halftime to put the Mountaineers (7-8-2) ahead. The Burgos, Spain, native earned a breakaway attempt off a headed ball from sophomore forward Tony Pineda and found the back of the net. It marked the first goal the Cougars (8-5-4) have given up at home since Sept. 17.
Neither team registered a shot until junior midfielder Tsubasa Takada’s effort went wide in the 15th minute. A few minutes later, sophomore forward Josh DiMatteo got into a dangerous position but sent his shot attempt wide, as well. West Virginia finished with three shots in the first 45 minutes.
In the 35th minute, junior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky was challenged but made a big, diving save to keep the match scoreless. Then, Robles Grajera’s tally gave the Mountaineers the halftime advantage.
In the second half, WVU fought off six SIUE shots and four corner kicks to keep its clean sheet intact. Offensively, senior defender Logan Lucas recorded a shot on goal in the 56th minute, but the attempt was saved by the Cougar keeper.
On the defensive end, the Mountaineers held firm, denying all action in the SIUE final third. The shutout marked Tekesky’s fifth of the season and second in three matches.
SIUE outshot WVU, 13-9, in the loss, while the Mountaineers held a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. The Cougars recorded seven corner kicks, to WVU’s one.
With the win, the Mountaineers improved to 5-0 on the season when scoring first.
Tuesday’s match marked the second meeting between West Virginia and SIU Edwardsville in the last 10 days. The two squads played to a 0-0 (2OT) draw on Nov. 2, in Edwardsville. WVU now leads the all-time series over the Cougars, 3-0-1.
Next up, WVU travels to Akron, Ohio, to meet No. 2-seed Western Michigan in the MAC Championship Semifinal on Friday, Nov. 15, at FirstEnergy Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. ET.