Down 2-1 in the final 10 minutes, the West Virginia men’s soccer team was able to beat Bowling Green 3-2 and win the MAC regular season championship on Friday night.
The win secured WVU’s first conference championship since 2006, when the Mountaineers were in the Big East conference.
“We’ve been so close, a number of times,” WVU head coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “I think that this team deserved the award of finally being close and getting the job done.”
Bowling Green (5-6-4, 1-1-2 MAC) commanded the ball early. Their first shot came in the third minute, and they followed it up with a goal only one minute later.
The goal was scored by the Falcons’ senior defender Moe Mustafa after freshman midfielder Jensen Lukacsko played a ball into the 18-yard box and Mustafa was able to get a shot off.
With WVU’s lackadaisical play in the first half, Bowling Green continued to control the ball after their score, and went into halftime with a 1-0 lead.
The Mountaineers opened the second half with much more energy, though. West Virginia put pressure on the Falcons’ defense early, and were able to tie the match only 2:28 into the second half.
Junior midfielder Andres Muriel Albino scored for West Virginia off an assist from senior midfielder Jorge Quintanilla.
“We saw that we started with a lack of intensity in the first 25 minutes. Then we came back in the second half with more intensity,” Muriel Albino said. “I think we did a pretty good game in the second half, not that good in the first half, but finally we scored.”
After the WVU score to tie the match, though, a foul was committed by the Mountaineers in their own penalty area and led to a penalty kick for the Falcons.
Senior defender Ackon Ebenezer stepped up and made the shot in the 56th minute to give Bowling Green a 2-1 lead.
Realizing the lack of time remaining, and with their title chances on the line, WVU began to play with a sense of urgency in the 80th minute.
This urgency led to two goals for the Mountaineers in the final six minutes to tie the match, and then to win it.
The tying score came in the 84th minute from Muriel Albino, his second goal of the match. Junior defender Albert Andres-Llop had the assist on the goal.
The Mountaineers continued their aggressive play in the closing minutes and again were able to score, this one in the 87th minute to take the lead. The goal came from senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc. Quintanilla was credited with his second assist of the match.
“Today we had to score more than we typically do to win a game, but we stepped up big time,” LeBlanc said.
West Virginia outshot Bowling Green 16-9 in the match, including 5-2 on goal. Freshman midfielder Josh Dimatteo led the Mountaineers in shots with four.
WVU’s next match is against Northern Illinois and their final of the regular season before the MAC Tournament begins.
Kickoff is set for next Saturday, Nov. 3, at 8 p.m.