West Virginia has been a team of mystery through 13 matches this season, falling to 8-5 Tuesday night as well as 1-0 in Mid-American Conference play.
Before the loss to Wright State, the Mountaineers had been victorious in five of their previous six matches, scoring two goals in every one of those wins.
“I think we’re close to being really, really good,” said WVU men’s soccer head coach Marlon LeBlanc following a Delaware beat down. Since then the Mountaineers have earned wins over Binghamton, 2-0, on Oct. 2 and Western Michigan, 2-1, on Oct. 6, before falling to No. 23 Wright State Tuesday night, 3-0.
In the midst of that winning streak, West Virginia suffered its worst loss of the season to Radford, 4-1. Besides the losses to Wright State and Radford, the WVU defense has proved to be consistent all season, allowing only six goals through 11 matches.
The Mountaineers offense has scored 21 goals through the first 13 matches, including a whopping 5-1 pounding of American on Aug. 31 and a 3-1 defeat over St. Francis on Sept. 15.
The West Virginia offense has righted the ship as of late. As noted earlier, the offense has scored two goals in five of its last seven matches, which combine for a total 10 goals through five matches. Previously, through the first five matches, the team was shutout 1-0 three times.
LeBlanc has said how well he thinks his team can perform. However, West Virginia hasn’t been able to stay hot and win any more than three matches in a row this season. With key players missing time throughout the season, including senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc, forward Rushawn Larmond and sophomore forward Tsubasa Takada, the Mountaineers have struggled to find balance and leadership.
A key aspect of this West Virginia team that shouldn’t be overlooked is the team’s 5-1 home record this season. The team has consistently performed dominantly at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, falling only to Radford in which LeBlanc called the worst loss in his 13-year tenure at WVU.
Perhaps the most notable Mountaineer to step up to the spotlight this season is junior defenseman Ryan Kellogg. Kellogg, who before the season had only found the net once before, has four goals on the season, including an impressive two-goal match against Delaware on Sept. 29.
“This game’s about finding some confidence, and I’ve been able to do that this year, our mentality is next man up and so if things aren’t falling someone’s got to step up and fortunately I’ve been able to do that a couple times this year,” explained Kellogg after WVU’s victory over Binghamton on Oct. 2.
Junior defenseman Pascal Derwaritsch is tied for the team lead in goals with Kellogg, followed by junior midfielders Ethan Shim and Larmond, who have three goals a piece.
With Mid-American Conference action ramping up, the Mountaineers will travel to Akron on Saturday to end the three-match road trip. At home, WVU will face off against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville on Oct. 20 and rival Pittsburgh on Oct. 23.