Two late goals lift #21 WVU men’s soccer to win

Gold and Blue Nation

West Virginia winger Ike Swiger sends a cross into the box during the Mountaineers’ Aug. 21 scrimmage against the University of Charleston at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. (Photo: Sam Coniglio)

he No. 21-ranked West Virginia University men’s soccer team earned a come-from-behind, 2-1 win over Western Michigan on Saturday afternoon in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Trailing, 1-0, the Mountaineers scored back-to-back goals in the 76th and 88th minute, respectively, to claim the victory. Senior forward Ike Swiger tied the game for WVU before sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks scored the game-winning goal in the final moments of the fixture.

The win marked West Virginia’s first in Mid-American Conference play this fall.

“These games are huge for momentum; you can just tell with the guys’ response and the way they feel,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “Given the nature of the last week that we’ve had, the response was incredible. It would’ve been easy for us to fold over and really struggle, but we didn’t give up. I’m just really, really pleased with the result because I think over the course of the 90 minutes, we deserved to win the game.”

On a chilly, windy afternoon at the WMU Soccer Complex, sophomore midfielder Ryan Baer nearly opened the scoring for the Mountaineers (7-1-4, 1-1-1 MAC) in the 19th minute with a shot that was saved by the WMU goalkeeper in the center of the goal. That proved to be the Mountaineers’ best scoring chance until the 43rd minute when fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris had a header saved off a WVU corner kick.

The match stayed scoreless as it reached halftime.

In the second half, fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky made a diving save in the 52nd minute to keep things knotted up. Then, the Broncos (4-5-4, 0-2-0 MAC) took the lead in the 72nd off a set piece. It marked just the second time this season that WVU conceded the opening goal of a game.

Needing to respond, Swiger found the quick equalizer, becoming the 12th different player to tally a goal for WVU this fall. Following a pass from Baer, Swiger was able to find the back of the net with a shot off the post to make it 1-1 in the 76th minute.

The Mountaineers weren’t done from there. In the 88th minute, Crooks tallied the game-winner when a long pass was mishandled by the Bronco back line, allowing the Oxfordshire, England, native to capitalize.

West Virginia held an 8-7 advantage in shots in the win, including 5-4 in shots on goal. WVU also held a 6-4 advantage in corner kicks. Crooks and Swiger co-led the Mountaineers with two shots each, while Tekesky made three saves in the win.

With the win, WVU improved to 6-5-2 all-time against Western Michigan, including 3-3-1 in Kalamazoo. Additionally, 11 of the 13 matchups between West Virginia and Western Michigan have ended in either one-goal games or draws.

Next up, West Virginia concludes its four-match road trip by traveling to Kentucky for a non-conference matchup on Tuesday, Oct. 19, in Lexington, Kentucky. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.

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