Mountaineers beat NY Red Bulls
Published: Sunday, May 1, 2011
Updated: Sunday, May 1, 2011 23:05
When West Virginia men's soccer coach Marlon LeBlanc was able to schedule a spring game against the MLS New York Red Bulls, it was a dream scenario.
The Mountaineers would be able to cap off the 2011 spring schedule against a top-notch opponent and gauge where they were heading into the fall.
Not only did WVU respond to the challenge of playing against professionals on Saturday, but it came away with a 1-0 victory over the Red Bulls.
"The performance was actually really good, and we saved our best for last in the spring season," LeBlanc said. "We played very, very well against a seasoned team with a lot of good players."
Although most of the big name stars on the Red Bulls' roster did not play in the contest due to a match against Sporting Kansas City later on Saturday, some name players still remained.
Midfielder John Rooney, who is the brother of soccer phenom Wayne Rooney, was one player that suited up for the Red Bulls.
"It was one thing to play a spring game against a bunch of pros that were in their season," LeBlanc said. "It wasn't a game in which we were trying a few different things. It was a full-fledged game, and it was a full go."
LeBlanc said he was impressed with the way his defense limited the Red Bulls' opportunities and was delighted in the way that WVU controlled play throughout the game.
"Our backs were able to break things up, and they did a great job of swarming," LeBlanc said. "They also were able to give the Red Bulls the position we wanted them to have instead of them imposing their will."
One reason for the Mountaineers' defensive success was the way the team's forwards and midfielders attacked the Red Bulls' offense.
"They weren't able to penetrate too often," LeBlanc said. "Our midfield and forward did a good job of playing our first line of defense."
Forward Shadow Sebele scored the lone goal of the contest off of an opportunity created by the attacking style of the WVU defense.
"It was a good little counter-attack off of our press," LeBlanc said. "We then stripped the ball and got through to the keeper."
Sebele not only scored a goal, but he also hit a post during the matchup, as he led the Mountaineers' offensive effort.
"We probably could have scored four or five goals, because we had some really good chances to open the game up," LeBlanc said. "All in all, our pressure, our compactness defensively, and our ability to explode out really gave them problems when we were on the attack."
Another highlight of the contest was goalkeeper Patrick Eavenson, who transferred from UNC-Charlotte and is looking to take over the starting spot vacated by Zach Johnson. Eavenson played the full 90 minutes in goal and made a key save early in the contest.
With the spring slate now finished for the Mountaineers, LeBlanc and his team will now turn their efforts toward continuing to develop their talents over the summer and preparing for the regular season.
"The guys have been putting in a lot of effort, and there has been some fantastic development," LeBlanc said. "It is showing that we are going to be a team to reckon with come this fall."