MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - The West Virginia University men’s soccer team opens the 2013 campaign with the WVU/Penn State Invitational this weekend at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The Mountaineers take on Central Connecticut State on Friday, Aug. 30, at 7:30 p.m., followed by a match with Radford on Monday, Sept. 2, at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s special for the guys, and it’s a special environment,” coach Marlon LeBlanc says of the home opener. “It’s the first indoctrination for all of the freshmen and new students at WVU.
“It defines how soccer is looked at this University and the priority that it is and how many students and fans get behind it. It’s neat for me to see considering I was here in the days when nobody was coming. To see that evolution and where we’re at now - essentially everything you tell these guys about the environment comes to fruition that first night.”
On Friday, fans can pick up a free men’s soccer schedule poster featuring the senior class. Following Monday’s match, there will be a free youth clinic for ages 13 and under, weather permitting. Participants should sign-up prior to halftime and bring a ball, cleats and shinguards.
The Mountaineers were picked to finish second in the Mid-American Conference Preseason Poll, after finishing 2012 with a 9-6-2 record and a second-place finish in the conference.
The squad returns 13 letterwinners, including 14 of 26 goals from 2012. In total, WVU returns 50 of its 90 points from last season.
Offensively, the team is led by junior Andy Bevin
and sophomore Majed Osman
. Bevin ranked fifth on the team with seven points (2 goals, 3 assists), while Osman scored three goals with four assists to total 10 points. Seven members of the current team recorded at least two points last season, while eight scored at least one goal.
West Virginia returns two players who recorded starts on the back line last fall in sophomores Haydon Bennett
and Francio Henry
. Each player played in 14 games, with Henry recording one assist.
Junior goalkeeper Lee Johnston
will start this season after transferring from Pitt. Johnston recorded two shutouts in exhibition play against Ohio State and Villanova.
Central Connecticut State was picked to finish second in the Northeast Conference in 2013, after finishing with an 8-8-2 record in 2012. The Blue Devils closed out the campaign by winning six of their last 10 games.
Leading returners include senior Eddy Bogle, sophomores Ben Knight and Freddy Metellus and junior Stephen Walmsley. Bogle ranked third on the team with four goals and 10 points, while defenders Knight and Walmsley combined for 10 points, scoring two goals apiece. Metellus added two goals.
Radford finished last season with a 10-6-4 record and the No. 2 seed in the Big South. The Highlanders fell in the Big South Tournament semifinal match.
Senior Bernardo Ulmo is the top returner after scoring 11 goals (25 points) last season. Also returning is Chel Ho Park Kim (5 goals), Joe Mayer (4 goals) and Ramzi Dridi (4 goals).
Admission is free for WVU students with a valid ID, $5 for adults, $3 for youths 18 and under and seniors. Tickets are $2 per person for groups of 10 or more.
For live stats and video stream of this weekend’s matches courtesy of Kroger, visit WVUsports.com.