MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A golden goal from defender Eric Schoenle in the 99th minute gave the West Virginia men’s soccer team a 2-1 victory over No. 25 Xavier on Thursday evening at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in the NCAA Tournament first round.
West Virginia had a 1-0 lead for the majority of the match before conceding a goal to Xavier in the 85th minute to knot the game at 1-1, forcing sudden death overtime.
“We put a lot of pressure on them, and if not for a couple of great saves by their goalkeeper that game would’ve opened up,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “In the second half they did what I anticipated and that was throw a lot more forward. They played a lot more direct in the second half. We got caught a little bit in transition, trying to put the game away, but at the end of the day we defended pretty well.”
Forward Jay Williams began the game-winning play when he was fouled while making a run past the left side of the Xavier defense. Midfielder Allan Flott was called upon to take the free kick and played a perfect ball to Schoenle, who converted a diving header off the post and into the back of the net for his fifth career game-winning goal.
“I was scared for a second, I thought it was going to come out off the post,” Schoenle says. “I didn’t see it go in, I Just heard everyone start screaming and it was pure joy after that. Flott played a perfect ball and it’s all about the service we get. I can’t head the ball if I don’t get a good ball.”
WVU had 18 shots in the match to Xavier’s nine, including eight shots on-goal to five, while also holding the corner kick advantage at 7-3.
After a slow start by both teams, the Mountaineers began to pressure the Musketeers in the final ten minutes that led to a goal by Williams in the 39th minute, the first of his career.
After Xavier was unable to clear the ball away, midfielder Uwem Etuk was able to play a cross into the box from the far side of the pitch. Williams was able to receive the cross, playing away from a Xavier defender and then slotting the ball into the far side of the net from just inside the 18 yard line.
“It was great service was Uwem and it took a little deflection, but I just stayed composed and shot it right by him,” Williams says. “It felt pretty good. It didn’t hit me until after I jogged back and saw it on the scoreboard.”
Gino Depaoli scored the game-tying goal for Xavier after numerous chances and offensive pressure from the Musketeers. Depaoli took a shot from 20 yards out into the far side of the net past diving WVU keeper Pat Eavenson. Luke Spencer started the attack bringing the ball up the right side of the field and made a pass to Hagglund, who played a cross to Depaoli for the goal.
Eavenson came up with four huge saves to preserve the win, including a save on Spencer only 30 seconds into the overtime period. Spencer ripped a bending shot from 20 yards out that Eavenson made a sprawling save to his left on.
Justin Marshall made five saves in the loss for Xavier, while a defender made a key team save late in the match.
Early in the first half Xavier nearly had a goal off the foot of Hagglund. After a turnover by defender Matt Drake, Hagglund had a one-on-one opportunity against Eavenson. Eavenson came out of the box and made a diving kick save on Hagglund.
The Mountaineers came out firing in the second half and almost capitalized in the 47th minute when Etuk took a shot that rebounded out to forward Andy Bevin. Bevin blasted a shot from 25 yards out that sailed over the net. Bevin also had a shot in the 54th minute from the same distance that was punched over the net.
Defender Raymon Gaddis almost connected on his first career goal in the 48th minute when he collected a ball and only had the goalkeeper to beat. Gaddis took a shot that went just wide right of the net.
A shot by Xavier’s Will Walker in the 56th minute nearly equaled the game, but a point-blank save by Eavenson kept the game in favor of the Mountaineers.
Bevin recorded a game-high five shots, including two on-goal, while Etuk also finished with two shots on-goal. Spencer, Hagglund and Depaoli all took two shots and one on-goal for Xavier.
The victory pushes WVU’s record to 11-7-1 overall and snapped Xavier’s five game-unbeaten streak. The Musketeers, the Atlantic 10 Conference champions, end their season with a 12-5-4 record.
The Mountaineers advance to the NCAA second round and will travel to Maryland, who had a first round bye, for a match on Sunday, Nov. 20, at 5 p.m. WVU and the Terrapins played early in the regular season with Maryland winning 3-1.