BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - The West Virginia University men’s soccer team used a goal in the 84th minute to clinch a spot in the Mid-American Conference Championship, topping Bowling Green on the road, 1-0, Saturday evening at Cochrane Stadium.
“I thought our performance was excellent,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says. “We got a pretty good team effort tonight in tough conditions, in a tough place to play and against a team that was as committed to winning as we were. We did a good job of showing our character and class when it mattered the most.”
Senior Eric Schoenle scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season at the 83:12 mark of regulation by flicking a header from the near post to the far post off a corner kick by senior Travis Pittman.
“It was a big win for us. Our whole season was basically on the line,” Schoenle says. “We’re in survive-and-advance mode right now, so we knew coming in that it was a must-win.”
Senior Uwem Etuk created the corner kick opportunity as he took a shot from inside the 18 yard box that deflected off a Bowling Green defender and out of play.
The win snaps a two-game losing streak in which WVU lost road matches at Akron and at Northern Illinois.
WVU finishes MAC play with a 4-2-1 record, tying for a spot in second place. The Mountaineers improve to 9-5-2 overall.
Bowling Green drops to 8-8-3 with a 3-3-1 mark in conference play.
The teams were unable to find much of a rhythm in the first half, playing the majority of the half in the midfield with the Mountaineers holding possession.
Bowling Green had the only shot on goal of the half in the third minute as WVU senior keeper Pat Eavenson made a save on Zach Lemke’s shot from 25 yards out.
WVU held the edge in shots (5-3) and corner kicks (5-0) at halftime. Bowling Green had three shots in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and the teams finished with 10 shots apiece. The Mountaineers held the corner kick advantage at 6-1.
Eavenson finished with two saves to help post his fifth shutout of the season and the team’s sixth.
The Mountaineers will now travel to Akron, Ohio, for the 2012 MAC Championship at First Energy Stadium. As the No. 3 seed, WVU will face No. 2 seed Northern Illinois on Friday, Nov. 9, at 4 p.m. Following the match between WVU and NIU, No. 1 seed Akron will take on No. 4 seed Bowling Green at 7:30 p.m.
The championship match will be held Sunday, Nov. 11 at 4:30 p.m.