A pair of goals in the opening half Sunday night continued West Virginia’s hot streak from Wednesday’s win over No. 1 Marshall. The Mountaineers, riding high from their third-ever victory over the top-ranked team in the country, also extended their nation’s-best undefeated streak to 15 straight matches.
No. 5 West Virginia (11-0-4, 4-0-3 Sun Belt) claimed a third-straight victory on the road at Coastal Carolina (3-7-3, 1-4-2 Sun Belt), winning by a final score of 2-0. The Mountaineers handed the Chanticleers a third consecutive loss.
West Virginia practically wasted no time getting on the scoreboard.
Marcus Caldeira’s header was initially saved by Coastal’s Alex Hare. However, Hare couldn’t fully secure the ball, which squirted out of his possession. That was all Yutaro Tsukada needed, as he tapped the ball to himself and cleaned up the mess with an uncontested goal.
It was Tsukada’s fifth goal of the year, as he continues to be one of the best points scorers for the Mountaineers.
Hare was making only his third start of the year in goal for the Chanticleers.
Veteran senior midfielder Luke McCormick scored later in the first half. McCormick, positioned just outside the box, took the feed from Sergio Ors Navarro. After one touch, he squared and successfully bent a shot over the leaping hand of Hare and into the net.
The Derby, England, native has scored in two of the last three matches.
WVU led by that margin the rest of the way, dominating possession. The Mountaineers did not allow a shot in the first half, and only faced two in the match. Jackson Lee was not forced to log a save, and pitched his seventh shutout of the season.
WVU’s last clean sheet came exactly one month ago, on Sept. 22, against Georgia Southern. This marks the second road shutout of the season for Lee and crew.
The Mountaineers have scored multiple goals in each of their last three matches and 10 matches total this season. Just two matches remain in the regular season for Dan Stratford’s team.
Sunday night’s win came amid several important outcomes across the Sun Belt Conference landscape.
SUN BELT SCOREBOARD WATCHING
Including West Virginia, each of the top three teams in the Sun Belt Conference were in action Sunday.
No. 1 Marshall (12-2, 5-2 Sun Belt) suffered a second consecutive loss, this time being shut out at home by visiting Kentucky. West Virginia travels to Lexington to take on the Wildcats Friday night.
Meanwhile, No. 2 UCF (9-1-2, 5-1-1 Sun Belt) used a pair of second-half goals to pick up a 3-2 victory on the road at South Carolina, but the Knights had to survive after being up by three. UCF starting keeper, Juanvi Munoz, was disqualified after earning a red card in the second half. That will force him to miss UCF’s ensuing contest.
SUN BELT STANDINGS
Entering the penultimate week of the regular season, the three teams are neck and neck atop the SBC standings.
With its win in Columbia, South Carolina, UCF has taken over the top spot in the standings with 16 conference points. West Virginia and Marshall are now tied for second place with 15 conference points. The Mountaineers started the week six points back of the Herd in the conference.
WVU was picked to finish third in the Sun Belt preseason poll. The top two seeds in the final Sun Belt Conference standings will host in the opening two rounds of the conference’s men’s soccer tournament.