The West Virginia men’s soccer team faced off against highly ranked Michigan State Wednesday night. The Spartans were ranked fifth in the nation coming into last night’s game. They were also ranked first in the NCAA Men’s Soccer RPI. The Mountaineers came into this game unranked, but they may be working their way into the rankings after last night’s great performance.
The first half was slow for both sides. The rainy conditions before the game may have had an early effect on the two teams, but it did not keep the local fans and students from coming out to support their Mountaineers. Michigan State possessed the ball early and had a couple of corner kicks to start the game. As the first half progressed, West Virginia turned up the intensity. This intensity first translated into a few fouls, but the Mountaineers were then able to get a couple of shots off. Michigan State then tried to get a goal late in the first half, but the shot was blocked. This save kept the score tied at 0-0 going into halftime.
Both teams started the second half with more aggression. The Spartans missed their first shot of the half, but the Mountaineers were able to convert their first shot of the second half into a goal in the 50th minute. Albert Andres-Llop scored his fifth goal of the season off a beautiful assist in traffic from Jorge Quintanilla, giving WVU a 1-0 lead on the #5 Spartans. Andres-Llop leads the Mountaineers in goals this season.
ICYMI: Albert Andres-Llop puts the Mountaineers ahead 1-0 over No. 5 Michigan State with this great build-up goal in the 50th minute. pic.twitter.com/WJgxO1iLvi— West Virginia Soccer (@WVUMensSoccer) October 12, 2017
As the second half continued, Michigan State had several opportunities to tie the game. The Spartans took four shots in the next 15 minutes that were all blocked or saved by WVU goalkeeper Steven Tekesky. The Mountaineers then began to take control of the game. Controlling the ball and forcing a couple of corner kicks began to frustrate the Spartans, which led to increased physicality and fouls. In fact, Michigan State received two yellow cards in a three minute period.
The frustration for the Spartans soon peaked. They scored the tying goal, or so they thought. Michigan State was able to put the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was taken off the board because of an offsides call, which kept the score at 1-0 in favor of West Virginia.
This score remained until the final whistle as the Mountaineers were able to hold off the Spartans for the closing minutes to complete the upset victory and their biggest win of the season. WVU improved its record to 7-3-3 this season. This signature win could create momentum for the Mountaineers in their remaining games as the conference tournament approaches.