MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The first year of the Dan Stratford era at WVU has come to an abrupt end.
WVU men’s soccer has failed to qualify for the 36-team NCAA Tournament, which begins next week in North Carolina. The Mountaineers needed to secure one of just 14 at-large bids in order to compete in the national tournament.
About an hour after learning the disappointing news, Stratford summed up his first season in charge with a tweet, promising that the Mountaineers will “leave no doubt” when they return to action in the fall.
Stratford’s first season as the leader of the program was filled with challenges, including the postponement of regular season play from the fall to the spring. But even in this season unlike any other, few could have accurately predicted the way that it ended.
West Virginia was supposed to play SIU Edwardsville Sunday at home with a chance to clinch a MAC regular season title. Instead, that game was cancelled due to COVID issues at SIUE, meaning the Mountaineers were never granted their chance to clinch the conference’s automatic berth
Bowling Green clinched the MAC’s automatic bid as its regular season champion, beating Northern Illinois 2-1 in overtime Sunday. The Mountaineers lost to the Falcons 1-0 at home in late March and then drew 0-0 last week on the road.
No other teams from the MAC qualified for the field of 36. Nine of the tournament’s 14 automatic bids went to teams from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC.
West Virginia earned victories over two tournament qualifiers in nonconference play. The Mountaineers defeated Charlotte, an at-large qualifier, 3-0 in February, and also upset Conference USA champ Marshall 1-0 in March.
West Virginia finished the regular season in third place in the MAC and entered the final week of its season ranked in the top 10 nationally in RPI. The Mountaineers conclude the season with a 6-3-1 overall record and 4-3-1 conference mark.