WVU Falls In Big East Final

The second-ranked West Virginia men's soccer team fell to No. 25 St. John's, 1-0, in the Big East championship game in overtime on Sunday in Piscataway, N.J., at Yurcak Field.

With just 4.4 seconds remaining on the clock in the first overtime period Adam Himeno struck the game-winning goal to secure an eighth Big East Championship for St. John's (13-5-2). Sunday's match was WVU's first-ever appearance in the conference title game.

The Mountaineers (15-2-3) received bad news before the game's first whistle as leading goal scorer Jarrod Smith was not cleared to play because of a hamstring injury. The news put the side down two starters as Dan Stratford had to sit out due to his red card in Friday's semifinal match versus Rutgers.

WVU out-shot St. John's 5-1 through the first period with two shots on goal to the Red Storm's none. Despite being a physical first half it was played relatively clean as both teams only recorded two fouls apiece.

Defender Pat Carroll had the team's best opportunity for West Virginia through the first 45 minutes as he got his head on a corner kick cross sending the ball toward the lower right corner of the net. The ball had goalkeeper Jason Landers fooled, but it was just too far wide. Freshman forward Tony Lindroos was able to get a boot on the ball before it crossed the end line with no good fortune.

The second half was much more physical as the two teams began pressing for the game-winning goal. The Mountaineers committed 10 fouls in the second half and were given a pair of yellow cards, while the Red Storm earned four fouls and one yellow card. With 12 minutes remaining in regulation St. John's forward Ryan Sorka had a chance to score his fifth consecutive game-winner as Himeno fed him a pass that forced a one-on-one with Mountaineer defender Paul Cunningham. Sorka's opportunity fell short though as he was only able to get off a dribbler that WVU keeper Nick Noble saved.

Eight minutes later, West Virginia defender Chris Wittig sent in a ball toward the goalmouth on a free kick that was fumbled by Landers. Andy Wright collected the ball and poked it toward the net, but it was blocked by a St. John's defender and cleared out of bounds. The Mountaineers suffered another close call in the first overtime when Noble attempted to haul in a free kick cross in the middle of the goal. On the way down, Noble's hands hit the cross bar and jarred the bar loose. He was able to fall to the ground and re-collect it before a Red Storm player could get to the ball, however.

And, just a couple minutes later, Wright got a hard shot off from the right side that Landers was able to get just enough of with his fingertips to force the ball off of the post. It was the final scoring chance before St. John's game-winner.

West Virginia will find out whom it faces in the NCAA tournament when the field of 48 is announced between 4-5 p.m. on ESPN News tomorrow afternoon. The Mountaineers will undoubtedly get a bye in the first round as the nation's top 16 teams get one. However, they are hoping for a top-four seed, which will guarantee them home field advantage until the Final Four.

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