Saturday night brings another opportunity for the West Virginia men’s soccer team to even their record this season when the squad hosts visiting Georgia State in a nonconference matchup. The Mountaineers have won just two of the past eight games.
WVU currently sits at 5-6-2 following a 1-1 draw against High Point Tuesday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. West Virginia struggled to find the back of the net recently, scoring just one goal in the past two games despite firing 43 shots. In fact, five of the Mountaineers’ six losses have come by just a single goal.
“Every team goes through these phases,” said defender Craig Stephens. “It’s going to click; it’ll happen. We just have to keep believing and having faith and keep on with the course.”
Stephens scored WVU’s only goal against High Point, which tied the match just three minutes after the Mountaineers gave up the first goal of the evening. The two sides played two overtime periods, but no winner surfaced and a draw was issued.
With the offensive inefficiencies come better defensive play for the Mountaineers. It has been five matches since WVU allowed multiple goals in a single contest, and the Mountaineers have given up just four total goals in the same time span. West Virginia head coach Marlon LeBlanc said he credits the improvement to the tactical changes the team has made this season.
“We’ve changed our shape a little bit from when he started the year,” LeBlanc said. “We still conceded three goals over the last three games. However, the opportunities are down significantly. We’ve held a lot more possession.”
West Virginia will entertain Georgia State, another non-league member Saturday. The Panthers are 5-6-1 this season. GSU is led by Stephen McGill, who has scored three times this season. The lead assist man is Aaron Jones, who has helped on four goals this season.
Saturday evening marks the first time the two schools meet on the soccer pitch. Georgia State was on a six-match winning streak before it snapped in a 5-1 loss to Central Florida. The team held its own against some top talent in the country this season, earning a draw against an undefeated Washington team and beating UNC-Greensboro, which was ranked earlier in 2013.
The Mountaineers continue to be led by junior Andy Bevin and sophomore Majed Osman. Bevin leads the team and Mid-American Conference with six goals and 18 points while Osman has notched five goals and a total of 15 points this season. In the last eight games, however, the two have combined for only four goals, adding to the offensive frustration. Still, LeBlanc said he is choosing to keep his focus on the defensive side of the ball.
“We can win one of these games eventually by a shutout,” LeBlanc said. “We shouldn’t have to score two, three, four, five goals every time to win games.”
West Virginia and Georgia State will meet up Saturday at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.