The regular season finale at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium did not disappoint as West Virginia hosted Mid-American Conference foe Bowling Green Friday. The game had drama, resiliency from both teams and plenty of goals as the game ended in a 3-3 draw.
It was all WVU needed to extend their season into the conference tournament.
West Virginia, 7-6-5 (2-2-2), knew going into the contest that they had to avoid a loss to the Falcons. The Mountaineers were unkindly reminded of that just three minutes into the game when BG scored the opening goal. Forward Rodcliff Hall and Ryan Comiskey had a two-on-one against WVU goalkeeper Lee Johnston for an easy opening goal.
The Mountaineers responded quickly. In just the fifth minute, freshman midfielder Christian Diaz took on a ball from just outside the box for the equalizer. It was Diaz’s second goal of the season and couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Falcons grabbed their second lead in the 23rd minute as Comiskey added to his total from earlier in the evening, scoring a beauty from 20 yards out while targeting the far post and past Johnston for the second time. The Falcons took a 2-1 lead and held it for 22 minutes until West Virginia answered again.
Just seconds before the half, junior forward Andy Bevin had an incredible effort, volleying a ball sent over by Majed Osman and smashing it into the back of the net.
The second half held two goals of its own as WVU’s Ryan Cain gave the Mountaineers their first lead of the evening, smashing a ball from the 18-yard stripe for a 3-2 lead in the 59th minute. It appeared to be the goal that sent the Mountaineers into the postseason, but Bowling Green wasn’t done just yet.
The Falcons again tied the match off a corner kick in the 85th minute as Ryan Snashall headed a ball over Johnston. Ninety minutes weren’t enough to decide the result of the match as the two sides went into overtime. After 20 overtime minutes, the match ended all square at three.
“We made it hard early on, but we really had a lot of chances tonight,” said head coach Marlon LeBlanc. “The not-so-great side is that we conceded three, but the brilliant side is that we scored three.”
West Virginia held a 22-15 advantage in shots in the wild affair. WVU had nine shots on goal to BG’s four. The Mountaineers also held a 7-4 nod in corner kicks. Friday was the fifth time this season the team has scored three or more goals, despite going through a difficult spell earlier in the month, scoring just five times in total since the middle of October.
“There was a run there where we were struggling to score goals,” LeBlanc said. “All we’ve done a little bit differently is that we’ve multiplied our chances and now we’re scoring. We’re still missing at the same clip as we were missing in that stretch, but anytime you score three, you have to look at the positive side of things.”
The draw sends WVU to the MAC tournament for the second consecutive occasion since joining the league in 2012. The Mountaineers earned the fourth seed and will take on the regular season champion Akron Zips in Akron.
The other two qualifiers for the tournament were Western Michigan and Hartwick, who finished second and third, respectively.
“We start from scratch now, everybody’s even,” LeBlanc said. “We get to play for a championship, and that’s what the goal was at the start of the year.”
The MAC tournament begins Friday night in Akron, Ohio. The West Virginia-Akron semifinal will kick off at 7 p.m.