WVU's Ryan Baer spins a Northern Illinois defender on March 6, 2021, in Morgantown.

WVU's Ryan Baer spins a Northern Illinois defender on March 6, 2021, in Morgantown.

The West Virginia men’s soccer team earned a 2-0 road win against Northern Illinois on Sunday afternoon, to keep its Mid-American Conference title dreams alive.

For the Mountaineers, it was Tony Pineda to open the scoring in the 25th minute. Jesus de Vicente squared the ball to Pineda who had space to tuck the ball away with his left foot from twelve yards. The second goal came a few minutes later when Ike Swiger struck a volley past Martin Sanchez for his third goal in the Mountaineers’ last four matches.

From the start of the match, West Virginia (6-3, 4-3 MAC) looked like the better team, but it was not pretty from either side. A few shots were fired from both teams early on, but none troubled West Virginia’s goalkeeper Steven Tekesky or Sanchez as they were off frame. Luke McCormick forced the first save of the day after he laced a good effort at Sanchez, but the next shot would be Pineda’s opening goal.

West Virginia once again dominated possession, holding the ball considerably more than the Huskies who simply looked to try and win the ball deep and counter throughout the whole match. The Mountaineers’ ball-dominant style led to exciting buildup for Swiger’s goal, and he took the chance perfectly.

Going into halftime, West Virginia held a 2-0 lead and was in complete control of the match. It took the Huskies 67 minutes to challenge Tekesky, as Diego Maynez fired a harmless strike straight into the chest of the senior.

The second half saw play open up as NIU (5-7-1, 4-5 MAC) desperately needed a goal to get back into the match, but it was ultimately unable to mount any serious attacks against the stout West Virginia back line. Tekesky only ended up making two saves.

Without key contributors like Anthony Markanich, Northern Illinois was unable to really mount any offensive pressure throughout the whole match and seemed defeated at times. 

However, for the Mountaineers, a massive match against Bowling Green looms as it will likely dictate who earns the auto bid to the NCAA Tournament as MAC Champions. 

The next match for the Mountaineers is on Wednesday and kickoff is set for 3 p.m.