Men's Soccer: 2011 Season Review

  • By Grant Dovey
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  • February 29, 2012 01:19 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 2011 men’s soccer season was one of many positives for coach Marlon LeBlanc as the Mountaineers continued to build the legacy of the program and qualified for the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in LeBlanc’s six seasons as coach.

The Mountaineers finished the season with an 11-8-1 record, including a 6-3 mark in the BIG EAST and a 6-3 record at home. WVU also earned the No. 2 seed in the BIG EAST Championships, the eighth-straight season WVU qualified for postseason play.

The team ranked No. 23 in average attendance for its fourth-consecutive Top 25 finish. WVU raised its average fans per game to 1,087, up 40 from 2010, while the total home attendance was 9,784. The Mountaineers played in front of 1,000-plus fans at home in six of the nine home games in 2011, including 1,850 fans against Binghamton and 1,719 against Connecticut. WVU had a regular season average attendance of 1,217 fans per game.

WVU also played in front of big crowds on the road, playing in 10 road games in front of an average of 1,530 fans per game. Top road attendances included Virginia (3,012), Maryland (4,629), UC Santa Barbara (3,136), Cal Poly (1,041), Notre Dame (1,635) and Maryland (2,437).

In total, the Mountaineers played in front of a total 25,086 fans in 2011 for an average of 1,320 per game.

WVU opened the regular season on the road with a match against No. 11 Virginia on Aug. 26, in the ACC/BIG EAST Challenge at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md. Eric Schoenle did not disappoint the 3,012 fans and had a diving header with 23 seconds remaining in the first half to give WVU a 1-0 lead. The Mountaineers allowed just three total shots to preserve the shutout victory.

WVU traveled back to Maryland on Aug. 29, to face No. 4 Maryland in College Park, Md. Andy Bevin gave WVU the early lead in seventh minute of action, before the Terrapins struck for three goals in the second half to win the match 3-1. WVU was called for 19 fouls in the match and was awarded two red cards and six yellow cards.

The team opened the home season on Sept. 2 in the annual WVU Nike Classic with a 2-1 victory against Binghamton. The crowd of 1,850 was the fourth highest to ever witness a men’s soccer match at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. After going down 1-0 in the ninth minute, Bevin struck with two goals in the final 15 minutes of the first half leading to a victory.

A goal by Travis Pittman in the 13th minute on Sept. 4, against No. 25 Old Dominion was pacing the Mountaineers before the match was cancelled due to inclement weather in the 41st minute.

WVU then traveled to California for the first time in school history with a match against No. 6 UC Santa Barbara on Sept. 10, and a game at Cal Poly on Sept. 12. The Mountaineers fell to the Gauchos in front of 3,136 fans with Matt Drake recording two shots, before coming out against Cal Poly in front of 1,041 fans and playing to a 0-0 draw. Justin Holmes earned his first nod in the net, not failing to disappoint with nine key saves en route to his first shutout as a Mountaineer.

The Mountaineers returned home to take on Richmond (9/16) and Duquesne (9/18), outscoring the teams a combined 7-2. WVU dominated the pace of play and possession in a 4-1 victory of Richmond. Shadow Sebele scored the eventual game-winning goal and took a game-high six shots, while Bevin continued his torrid scoring pace with two goals on five shots. The pressure continued in a 3-1 victory of Duquesne. Peabo Doue and Sebele each scored goals for the second time in as many games and Uzi Tayou added a second half insurance goal for the second of his career. Sebele also had two assists for a four point afternoon. Both games saw 1,000-plus come through the turnstiles to make it seven-straight games of at least 1,000 seeing the Mountaineers.

One week later WVU opened the BIG EAST season with a match against No. 13 USF on Sept. 25. Despite leading in most statistical categories, WVU dropped a 2-1 decision to snap a 13 game home winning streak in front of 1,375 fans. Sebele scored the game’s opening goal in the eighth minute of play before the Bulls tied it in the 13th minute and took the lead in the 74th minute.

A disappointing 2-0 loss on the road to James Madison ended September on Sept. 28, with WVU outshooting the Dukes 8-2.

The Mountaineers started October with a three-game winning streak with a pair of 1-0 wins over Cincinnati (Oct. 1) and No. 13 Georgetown (Oct. 8), and a 2-0 win at Pitt (Oct. 12). Bevin scored in the 26th minute against the Bearcats to give WVU its first BIG EAST win. Uwem Etuk netted his first goal of the season with nine minutes remaining to beat the Hoyas, and Sebele converted two successful penalty kicks to give WVU a win against Pitt.

WVU then hit the road and took a tough loss to Marquette on Oct. 15, who scored the game-winning goal in the 79th minute to go up 2-1. After the Golden Eagles took the 1-0 lead in the 28th minute, WVU was able to regroup and Etuk knocked in the game-tying goal in the 47th minute.

The biggest win of the season came in front of a raucous crowd at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium with the Mountaineers shutting out No.1 Connecticut 2-0 on Oct. 18. WVU dominated the offensive and defensive zone in the final 60 minutes of the match and held Connecticut to just five shots on-goal. The attendance of 1,719 marked the sixth highest to witness a game at the stadium. Sebele scored on a penalty kick for his sixth goal of the season to break the game open, while Schoenle added an insurance goal in the 78th minute off a corner kick.

WVU fell 2-1 on Oct. 21, in its regular season home finale against Providence. Despite the loss, Nick Claudio scored the first goal of his career in the 46th minute after receiving a cross from Etuk, flicking the ball up to himself and hitting a half-bicycle past the Friar keeper from 30 yards out.

Injuries began to build up, but the Mountaineers persevered with playoff implications on the line and earned a pair of 2-0 shutout victories over Seton Hall (Oct. 26) and No. 12 Notre Dame (Oct. 29). Pittman scored the game-winning goal by successfully converting a penalty kick in the 42nd minute to give the Mountaineers a 1-0 lead over the Pirates. Bevin added the insurance goal in the 61st minute racing past the Pirate defenders and buried it past the Seton Hall keeper. Claudio gave the Mountaineers the leads against the Irish in the 24th minute after a scrum in front of the net, while pressure from Bevin in 71st minute forced Notre Dame into committing an own goal.

Thanks in part to the late season success, the team earned a No. 2 seed in the Blue Division of the conference championships and had a first round bye. However, having the bye proved to be no advantage as WVU had to face No. 13 St. John’s, with the Red Storm taking the quarterfinal match 2-0.

A little over a week late, WVU learned its NCAA fate, as a little bit of déjà vu occurred when WVU was picked to play Xavier in the first round of the tournament for the second-consecutive season.

A golden goal from Schoenle in the 99th minute gave the West Virginia men’s soccer team a 2-1 victory over No. 25 Xavier on Nov. 17 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium to advance the Mountaineers to face Maryland in the second 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.

In what turned out to be the final match of the season, the Mountaineers fell to No. 5 Maryland by a score of 4-0. Despite the loss, the 11 wins mark the second-consecutive season with at least 11 wins, as well as the team playing in 10 matches against Top 25 opponents. Against those teams, WVU had an impressive 5-5 record.

The postseason awards rolled in for the Mountaineers following the season with four WVU student-athletes earning honors. Bevin raked in awards starting with the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year, as well as being an All-BIG EAST third team and All-BIG EAST rookie team member. Bevin was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year, and was also named first team all-freshman by both CollegeSoccerNews.com and Soccer America. Bevin was also one of three to be named to the NSCAA All-Northeast Region, joining Schoenle and Gaddis.

Schoenle earned his own awards as well, being named a third team NSCAA All-American and earning second team All-BIG EAST. Gaddis was also named to the All-BIG EAST second team, while Sebele was named a third team member.

Academically, the team earned the NSCAA Team Academic Award for the fourth-straight season after achieving a team GPA of over 3.0. WVU was one of only eight BIG EAST teams recognized, with a 3.05 GPA. Ruben Garrido earned an individual academic award, as he was the winner of the 2011-12 BIG EAST Institutional Male-Scholar Athlete Award.

With one of the nation’s top recruiting classes, the team returning 71 of its 81 points and a returning starting goalkeeper in Pat Eavenson, the Mountaineers will look to continue the success of the previous seasons that has brought the program to national prominence.