MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — It has been almost a picture-perfect start to this season for the West Virginia men’s soccer team. Aside from one measly goal surrendered on the road in the nation’s capital, the Mountaineers have been spotless.
Ranked No. 4 in the country, the Mountaineers have gone from unranked to the top five in a matter of just a few weeks.
West Virginia has another top-10 opponent coming up on Friday, as the Mountaineers will be in Orlando, Florida taking on No. 5 UCF. Before WVU and the Knights battle, let’s take a look at this impressive start to the season by Dan Stratford’s lads.
Five matches. Five wins. Starts to a season like that are not common in WVU men’s soccer lore.
In fact, this is just the second 5-0 start in program history. The first was in 1975, a season that turned sour shortly after the team’s unbeaten start.
Stratford’s Mountaineers have outscored its opponents 10-1. Through the same number of matches, John McGrath’s 1975 Mountaineers had a 32-1 scoring advantage, though that did include a 14-0 shellacking of Division II University of Charleston, and a 6-1 win over Division II West Virginia Wesleyan.
Two of Stratford’s team’s wins this year have come on the road, whereas McGrath’s Mountaineers did not leave West Virginia until the sixth week of the season.
1 goal allowed in 5 matches
Four hundred and fifty minutes of soccer. One goal allowed. It has been an impressive showing, defensively, thus far by WVU.
To put that further into perspective, this is just the fourth time the program has accomplished that feat this century. The last occurrence was in 2017. The 2007 and 2006 seasons were the others since the start of the new millennium.
However, each of those three seasons included at least one draw or loss. The 2023 Mountaineers are still perfect in the W-L-D columns.
As of Wednesday morning, only one (1) player in the country has scored more goals than Marcus Caldeira. The sophomore striker has scored six goals already this year, one more than he scored all of last season.
His six goals not only mean Caldeira is among the top goal-scorers in the country for this year, but it means this as well:
Caldeira’s six goals are already more than or equal to West Virginia’s season-goals-scored leader in 12 of the 23 seasons since the start of the 2000 campaign.
In other words, through just five matches played this year, Caldeira has already found the back of the net more often than West Virginia’s goals-scored leader(s) in the 2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2016, 2017, 2020-21, and 2022 seasons, and has equaled WVU’s top goal scorer(s) from the 2004, 2007, 2012, and 2021 campaigns.
That includes Stratford, who tied for the team lead with six goals scored in 2007.
Rodrigo Robles Grajera (9) and Andres Muriel Albino (7) are the last Mountaineer men’s soccer players to tally more than six goals, both doing so in 2019.
Last Saturday’s win over No. 3 Portland was monumental for all of the obvious reasons that come with taking down the third-ranked team in the country on a last-season goal. But it was also WVU’s first-ever win against the Pilots.
Portland is one of three teams West Virginia has beaten for the first time in program history this season. Yale and California Baptist are the others.
WVU is still looking to defeat four future 2023 opponents — UCF, Loyola (Md.), South Carolina, and Kentucky — for the first time in program history. Only one of those meetings will be played in Morgantown.
Other numbers of note
- 4 — Number of assists by Yutaro Tsukada, who is T-4th nationally in the statistic
- 3 — Number of game-winning goals for Caldeira, who is T-3rd nationally in the stat
- 2.40 — Caldeira’s points per game average, T-6th in the country
- .900 — Goalkeeper Jackson Lee’s save percentage this year, the fifth-best mark in the sport
- 4 — Shutouts by Lee, T-1st in the nation
- .800 — WVU team shutout percentage, T-3 in the sport.
- .200 — WVU’s team goals against average. The third-best number in the country