Men's Soccer: WVU Stuns No. 22 Notre Dame
By Ira Green for MSNsportsNET.com
October 17, 2009
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sophomore Alex Silva recorded the game-winning goal in the 48th minute to guide the West Virginia University men’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over No. 22-ranked Notre Dame on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Alumni Stadium in Notre Dame, Ind.
WVU, which has now defeated two top-25 ranked opponents this season, improves to 6-2-5 overall and 5-1-2 in BIG EAST play.
“It was a big result for a number of reasons,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “It keeps us in the running for the top of the BIG EAST. I believe the victory helps put us in contention for the top two seeds in the BIG EAST Tournament. Any time you go on the road, you want to steal points and that’s what we were able to do today.”
Freshman Travis Pittman started the scoring play on one of WVU’s three corner kicks. With Notre Dame unable to clear the pass, Silva collected the ball and slotted into the net for the score, his team-leading third of the season.
The Mountaineers’ biggest test of the game was the wind, which reached more than 10 MPH throughout the game. After facing a difficult wind in the first half, the Mountaineers used it to their advantage in the second, especially on offense.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Zach Johnson was a huge part of the Mountaineers’ success as he made eight saves, which ties his season high against Elon on Oct. 14.
“Zach had his best game as a Mountaineer today,” LeBlanc adds. “He had about three huge saves, including one really big save in the first half when we were battling against the wind. Most importantly, he handled crosses well, came off his line and was aggressive in the box. He proved today why he is one of the best goalkeepers in America.”
The 2009 preseason College Soccer News second team All-American lowered his goals-against average to 0.49 and raised his save percentage mark to 0.870; both marks rank among the top 30 in the country.
Seven Mountaineers, including Johnson, played all 90 minutes in the victory.
In front of Johnson, the Mountaineer defense also continues to be one of the stingiest units in the country.
Senior Gift Maworere earned the 71st start of his career, moving him into sixth place all-time on the school’s career list.
Coming into the match, Notre Dame (7-6-1, 5-3-0 BE) had two players – Bright Dike and Michael Thomas – who were among the top 10 in the league in points. The two only combined for five shots.
WVU returns to action on Wednesday, Oct. 21, with its final non-conference match of the season at 15th-ranked Ohio State. Kickoff at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium is set for 7 p.m.