No. 4 Mountaineer men’s soccer travels for key MAC match at NIU

Gold and Blue Nation

The No 4-ranked West Virginia University men’s soccer team continues its four-match road trip by traveling to Northern Illinois on Saturday, Oct. 9, in DeKalb, Illinois. Kickoff at the NIU Soccer and Track & Field Complex is set for 4 p.m. ET.

Fans can follow along with all the action with live stats and live video, courtesy of NIUHuskies.com.

“The last few days have been about refocusing ourselves in preparation for a very difficult match on the road,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “NIU has shown to be a very high-scoring team, which is a challenge all by itself. They’ve also only conceded a few goals on the entire year, which shows they truly are a competitive, complete team. It’s up to us to key in on our defending and find the back of the net.”

Saturday marks the 12th overall meeting between the Mountaineers (6-0-4, 0-0-1 MAC) and Huskies (9-1, 1-0 MAC). WVU holds a slim, 5-4-2 advantage in the all-time series, including 2-2-1 on the road.

West Virginia took down NIU twice last season, earning a 1-0 win at home on March 6, 2021, before recording a 2-0 victory in DeKalb on April 11. In all, WVU has won three of its last four over Northern Illinois.

The Mountaineers are coming off a 1-1 draw at Lehigh on Oct. 5, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Senior forward Yoran Popovic scored just 59 seconds into the contest, marking his team-leading fourth goal in the last five matches. However, a Mountain Hawk penalty-kick goal in the 75th minute leveled the score line before a pair of scoreless overtime periods.

WVU fired a season-high 25 shots against Lehigh, and it held a 7-3 edge in shots on goal. West Virginia also registered 12 corner kicks, to the Mountain Hawks’ two.

With the result, the Mountaineers extended their season-opening unbeaten streak to 10 games, good for the longest to begin a year in program history. What’s more, WVU hasn’t lost to 12 matches dating back to last season, which is tied for its second-longest unbeaten streak ever.

West Virginia checked in at No. 4 in this week’s United Soccer Coaches Men’s Division I Poll, which was released on Tuesday. It marked the fifth straight week that WVU was featured in the poll’s top five.

The Mountaineers enter the weekend as one of just seven Division I programs without a loss. Individually, fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky is ranked No. 3 in the nation in shutouts (6) and No. 8 nationally in goals against average (.459).

Stratford enters Saturday’s fixture with a 73-7-10 record as a head coach, including 12-3-5 with the Mountaineers.

Northern Illinois is led by fifth-year coach Ryan Swan, who is 32-39-4 in his time in DeKalb. The squad has won eight straight matches, dating back to Sept. 4.

Last time out, NIU earned a 3-0 win over Western Michigan on Oct. 2, in Kalamazoo. The squad received votes in this week’s United Soccer Coaches poll.

One of the highest scoring teams in the nation, NIU ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring offense and No. 4 in goals. Nick Markanich has scored 12 times, good for the national lead in the category. In all, Northern Illinois has outscored its opponents, 30-3.

For more information on the Mountaineers, follow @WVUMensSoccer on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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