By Ira Green for MSNsportsNET.com
October 10, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 25-ranked West Virginia University men’s soccer team battled 13th-ranked Connecticut to a 0-0 double-overtime draw on a cool Saturday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
||Senior Ryan Gillespie accounted for two of WVU's eight shots Saturday.
Courtesy of Allison Toffle
"I thought we had the right game plan for them. They weren't too dangerous,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “I don't even remember their 13 shots. I don't think (goalkeeper) Zach (Johnson) got dirty tonight. A lot of credit goes to that defense in front of them, and it wasn't just the back four. The midfield did well to close them down. UConn is really good at keeping possession and knocking the ball around."
The Mountaineers, now unbeaten in their last six matches, and have not lost to Connecticut in the last four meetings between the two programs. WVU moves to a 5-2-4 overall record, including a 4-1-2 mark in the BIG EAST.
Offensively, WVU had most of its scoring opportunities toward the end of the first half, but its best chance came with less than three minutes remaining in regulation.
Freshman Moeryhan “Peabo” Doue and senior Ryan Gillespie were making a run at the Connecticut net and were deep in Huskies territory. Doue, who had the ball from 20 yards out, laid off a pass to Gillespie, who was on his left side. Gillespie dribbled the ball into the box before finding Doue just inside the 18-yard box. With Connecticut goalkeeper Josh Ford coming off his line, Doue tried to send a shot over Ford, but the touch sent the ball just over the top of the net.
In the second overtime, sophomore Raymon Gaddis made a run of his own at the Connecticut net. From just inside Huskies territory, Gaddis dribbled the ball deep into the Connecticut 18-yard box, and right before he prepared to take a shot, the ball slipped away and Ford was able to clear it out of the zone.
"I thought we were the more aggressive team,” LeBlanc adds. “Connecticut didn't really do too much in terms of going forward and trying to win the game. They were content playing in the back and stalling. In overtime, you saw them really just trying to kill the game off. I thought we missed our couple of opportunities to win the game. We're still alive in the hunt for the top of the BIG EAST and that's important."
Junior Dan Hagey earned his first start this season after missing the first half with an injury. Hagey started out at defense and proved to be a key component on the field. His aggressive style of play made it difficult for the Connecticut forwards, and in key moments, the Ephrata, Pa., native made runs up the field to give the WVU offense another attacker.
In the first half of play, sophomore Alex Silva came into the game in the 20th minute. He wasted little time getting on the score sheet. In the 28th minute, the Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, native gathered the ball from approximately 20 yards out, left of center. With no one near him, Silva laced a shot that appeared to be heading into the upper-90 of the Huskies goal, but sailed just high and wide.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Zach Johnson made five saves and earned his seventh shutout of the season. He lowered his goals-against average mark to 0.49 and has a .838 save percentage through 11 contests in 2009.
Connecticut (6-2-3, 5-1-1 BIG EAST) had seven different players register a shot, and was led by Stephane Diop, who finished with three shots, including two on-goal. Ford made four saves in the tie.
WVU returns to action on Wednesday, Oct. 14, with a match against non-conference foe Elon. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is set for 7 p.m.