MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As the fall sports season comes to a close, WVU men’s soccer refuses to stop playing.
The fifth-seeded Mountaineers took down Louisville 1-0 in the NCAA Tournament’s Round of 32 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.
In the first half, the Mountaineers possessed the ball for 62% of action as it became more apparent that the Cardinals could be playing for extra time. Louisville succeeded, and the score was knotted at 0-0 at the half.
“They were a worthy adversary on the day,” WVU head coach Dan Stratford said. “I thought they played very well.”
The Cardinals’ air-tight defense finally broke in the 72nd minute when Yutaro Tsukada blasted a roller from inside the 12-meter line off a pass from Carlos Hernando that split the Cardinals’ wall into the back of the net.
“I saw the spacing in front of me, and then the center-back came up to me and I faked a shot, then I saw the goal, so [I] just smashed it,” Tsukada said.
In the 81st minute, WVU goalkeeper Jackson Lee recorded two saves in the matter of seconds – the first in a diving manner – to negate Louisville’s best scoring chance of the afternoon.
With 62 seconds remaining, both teams got in a scuffle on WVU’s side of the field. Players from both teams were entangled in the minor altercation that ended in dual yellow cards to Louisville’s Bradley Sample and WVU’s Otto Ollikainen. More importantly, WVU possessed the ball, and the Mountaineers were able to manage control for most of the final minute on the way to victory.
The Mountaineers won the possession battle all game, and they took 10 more shots (17) than Louisville (seven). Both keepers – Lee and Alex Svetanoff – recorded three saves each.
With Georgetown losing to James Madison Sunday afternoon, WVU can have homefield advantage through the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament. The kick time and date for the Mountaineers’ Round-of-16 matchup against either Vermont or Sun Belt foe UCF is still to be determined, though it will be played in Morgantown.
“We get another week,” Stratford said. “We get another home game, which is huge, so yeah, looking forward to whoever the next contest may be.”