The third-seeded Mountaineers struck first in the 14th minute, when senior midfielder Dan Stratford drilled a corner kick into the box and defender Jason Bristol headed the ball past Villanova goalkeeper Jason Friel for an early 1-0 lead. The goal was Bristol's third of the year, all on headers and all off of set pieces set up by Stratford, who added to his school record with his 27th career assist.
"Jason Bristol has come through really well," said head coach Marlon LeBlanc, who faced the Wildcats for the first time in his two seasons in Morgantown. "He's certainly been a danger on these set pieces and I'm really happy for him and happier for the team. He's not giving anything up in the back either, which is what I have noticed the most."
WVU scored again in the 28th minute, when Stratford received a pass from Pat Carroll 15 yards from the goal. Stratford promptly booted a perfectly placed rocket into the top left portion of the goal to give the Mountaineers a 2-0 lead. The goal was his third of the season, and it marked his first three-point game of the year. West Virginia (13-5-1, 7-3-1) dominated play in the first half, out shooting the Wildcats 8-3, while holding a 6-1 advantage on corner kicks. The Mountaineers relied on their NCAA-leading defense (six goals all season) in the second half to record their sixth straight shutout. The West Virginia defense leads the nation in goals against average.
"I expect Dan to get goals and assists. I expect him to serve great balls in on set pieces and he did that tonight and it certainly paid huge dividends for us," LeBlanc said.
The Mountaineers finished with a 13-11 advantage on shots and a 6-2 edge in corner kicks and now travel to Louisville on Friday night to face the Cardinals in the quarterfinal round. The Mountaineers have not played Louisville since earning a 2-1 victory in Morgantown last season.
"It's going to be a tough game. They are an upstart team," LeBlanc said. "They will be a difficult nut to crack on the road but our team has cracked a lot of nuts on the road so far this year. I've got complete faith in the expectation that we are going to go out to Louisville and get a result."
Kickoff from Cardinal Park is set for 7 p.m.