By Ira Green for MSNsportsNET.com
September 4, 2009
BOX SCORE | PHOTO GALLERY
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – In front of 2,938 fans – the largest crowd in men’s program history – on opening night, the West Virginia University men’s soccer team dropped a close 2-0 decision to No. 16-ranked UC-Santa Barbara on Friday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. It was WVU’s first match of the WVU/NIKE Classic, presented by Jerseys Subs.
||Freshman Peabo Doue goes up for a header.
Courtesy of Allison Toffle
The Mountaineers (0-1-0) opened the game with an aggressive attack, pressuring the Gauchos’ defense from the moment the whistle blew. At the 19:34 mark, freshman Abel “Shadow” Sebele had a chance to open the scoring. After receiving a pass from freshman Travis Pittman, Sebele made a nifty move to beat a defender approximately 25 yards out and blasted a shot that sailed high.
“When you look at the scoreboard, you’d be surprised we lost,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “We didn’t capitalize on chances and we were soft in the middle of the field. I thought we gave up a bad goal in the beginning and that gave them the momentum.”
Moments later, it was UC-Santa Barbara (2-0-0) on the attack. Michael Nonni sprinted at the WVU defense and laid off a pass to Waid Ibrahim, who beat senior defenders Jason Bristol and Ryan Gillespie. After redshirt junior Zach Johnson came off his line to make the stop, Ibrahim slid the ball near post for the score, giving UCSB the 1- 0 lead.
WVU, however, came within inches of tying the game courtesy of sophomore Raymon Gaddis not too much later. On what was WVU’s best chance to score, Pittman, with his back to the goal, slipped a pass to Gaddis, who was streaking on the far side. After beating a defender, Gaddis was faced with just goalkeeper Sam Hayden, but sent a shot that went just wide of the net.
The tandem of senior Gift Maworere and freshman Uwem Etuk also proved to be lethal. Maworere sent a long ball to Etuk approximately 10 yards in front of UCSB 18-yard box, but a Gaucho defender was able to poke the ball away from Etuk and prevent the attack from developing.
Preseason College Soccer News second team All-American Johnson made a fantastic stop with less than 20 minutes remaining in the first half. UCSB’s Nonni was on a breakaway, with Bristol trailing, and Johnson came off his back line to shut down Nonni’s opportunity for a clear shot on-net. It is only the fifth time in 42 career matches that Johnson has allowed two or more goals.
At the 64:50 mark, the Gauchos tacked on the second and final goal of the game. Martin Hedevag slipped a ball through the defense to David Walker, who was in alone with Johnson, and beat him for the score.
The lively Mountaineer offense was after it again with 22:36 left in the match. Following a yellow card against the Gauchos, Sebele sent a beautiful pass into a crowded UCSB box on the restart. Bristol and freshman Moeryhan “Peabo” Doue pressured the UCSB goalkeeper, but could not put a head on the ball.
The Mountaineers out-shot the Gauchos, 7-6, and tied UCSB in corner kicks, 4-4. A young squad, the Mountaineers started five freshmen and two sophomores.
“It was disappointing that we played that well in front of a fantastic crowd and didn’t get the result,” LeBlanc adds. “We want that type of atmosphere every game.
The Mountaineers return to the pitch on Sunday, Sept. 6, for a West Virginia PBS televised match against Buffalo, which is 1-0-0, after beating Pitt, 1-0, earlier in the day. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.