The West Virginia University men's soccer team jumped from No. 21 to No. 15 in the weekly Soccer America poll released Monday. The Mountaineers defeated then No. 6 Maryland 1-0 in overtime on Friday, Sept. 7. Wake Forest (4-0) topped the poll followed by BIG EAST foe Connecticut (4-0), Indiana (3-0-1), SMU (2-0-1) and Duke (3-1) to round out the top five.
The men's team defeated Duquesne 1-0 Monday night on senior Dan Stratford's second straight game-winning goal. Stratford hit an arcing corner kick that flew into the net untouched with less than two minutes remaining in the match. The goal was his second of the season. Both teams were held scoreless in the first half before WVU opened up its offense in the second creating many dangerous scoring opportunities in front of the Dukes' net. A shot which deflected off of a Duke player gave Stratford the corner kick which he converted into the game winner.
WVU dominated Duquesne, out-shooting the Dukes 16-4. The Mountaineers had five shots on goal, while Duquesne could not break the WVU defense for even a single shot on goal. Goalkeeper Zach Johnson, the BIG EAST rookie of the week, recorded his third-straight shutout. Johnson is just one shutout away from tying the WVU record for consecutive shutouts set at four.
"We are pleased with the result", head coach Marlon LeBlanc said. "We've made a major commitment to attacking and I'm proud of this result."
Also, WVU goalie Zach Johnson has been named the Big East Rookie of the Week. Senior Dan Stratford was named to the weekly honor roll.
In the 1-0 overtime win over No. 6 Maryland on Sept. 7, Johnson earned his second shutout of the season in just his third collegiate game. The redshirt freshman, a native of Lumberton, N.J., has recorded nine saves in 270:35 minutes of play and has posted a 0.33 goals against average this season. Johnson ranks third in the BIG EAST in both GAA and save percentage, and ranks fourth in shutouts per game. Stratford netted the game-winner against No. 6 Maryland in sudden death overtime in front of a crowd of 5,022 in College Park, Md. Just 35 seconds into the sudden death match, Stratford headed a line drive off of a cross from senior Mike Anoia that flew past the Terrapin goalkeeper to secure the victory. The goal was the first of the season for Stratford.
Women Beat Penn State; Will Challenge No. 2 A&M
The 18th-ranked West Virginia University women's soccer team knocked off 15th-ranked Penn State, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. A crowd of 887 also witnessed head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown's 150th career win at WVU.
A relentless WVU offensive attack paid off in the 79th minute on a goal from senior forward Kiley Harris. Junior midfielder Amanda Cicchini played a perfect ball across the middle to Harris who beat PSU's goalkeeper near post.
"It was bittersweet for Kiley," said head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. "As a senior she is doing the things she wanted to accomplish and got that monkey off her back. Kiley came through for us today and I'm very happy for her."
The goal was the first of the season for Harris and seventh in her career. Cicchini, a 2007 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy candidate, played all 90 minutes in midfield and recorded her first assist of the season. After a scoreless first half, the Mountaineers (3-1) dominated second half play, firing 14 shots in the final 45 minutes to just five for Penn State (2-2). WVU outshot PSU 23-7 on the day and held an 8-2 advantage on corner kicks.
The Mountaineer defense, led by sophomore goalkeeper Mallory Beck, was outstanding all afternoon in registering its second shutout of the season. WVU's defense held the Nittany Lions to just two shots on goal during the 90-minute match. Junior defender Robin Rushton also made her presence felt in her 2007 debut.
"She was an absolute warrior out there today," said Izzo-Brown of Rushton's return to the field. "She played through a lot of pain for the good of the team. We would not have won today without the effort we received from Robin."
Today's victory also marked the program's 150th win. WVU has won 18 of its last 20 games (18-1-1) at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
"Anytime you reach a landmark like 150, you think about the people who helped you get there," said Izzo-Brown, now 150-63-17 in her 12th season in Morgantown. "I cherish this win and all the people who helped us reach this mark."
Izzo-Brown continues to build a championship program at West Virginia. Entering the 2007 campaign, Izzo-Brown was the NCAA's 20th winningest Division I women's soccer coach of all-time (.691). WVU has now beaten Penn State for a second consecutive season.
"I'm not too interested in stats or records for whatever reason," added Izzo-Brown. "But to have the win come against such a good program like Penn State, who we respect so much, it means a lot. It means our program is heading in the right direction as we compete for BIG EAST and national championships."
West Virginia will be tested again next week with a match against No. 2-ranked Texas A&M. The Mountaineers and Aggies will play in State College, Pa., on Friday, at 5 p.m.
"There is no room for a letdown, especially with our next match against a very good Texas A&M team," said Izzo-Brown. "I really believe to be the best, you have to play the best. And our ladies will be ready to play on Friday."
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West Virginia University women's soccer player Mallory Beck was named BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Week announced conference officials Monday.
Beck guided the Mountaineers to a pair of wins over the weekend, improving her record to 3-1 between the posts. The conference honor is the first of her career and first for West Virginia this season.
The sophomore made a career-high five saves in Friday's 3-1 win over Rhode Island. On Sunday, Beck and the WVU defense recorded a shutout win over 15th-ranked Penn State. The Johnston, Iowa, native tallied two saves in the 1-0 victory, also the program's 150th win. It marked only the third time PSU has been held scoreless in its last 16 games.
Other BIG EAST award winners were Louisville's Kelsey Hunyadi (Offensive Player of the Week), Marquette's Shannon Cusick (Defensive Player of the Week) and St. John's Raelynne Lee (Rookie of the Week).