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WVU WINS BACKYARD BRAWL
In front of a packed house of over 1,300 rowdy fans at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown, the West Virginia men’s soccer team upset #3 Pitt, 2-1. Both teams came into the match with 1-0 records, but the Mountaineers were the only ones who left undefeated in the 50th edition of the men’s soccer Backyard Brawl.
Midway through the first half junior midfielder Luke McCormick scored the opening goal of the game and WVU went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. The Panthers scored quickly in the second half to tie up the match, before senior forward Adam Burchell gave the Mountaineers a 2-1 lead with less than 15 minutes remaining. Despite multiple clock stoppages by the referee, the Mountaineers were able to hold on in the final minutes to keep the 2-1 win.
I think that this win was huge for WVU head coach Dan Stratford and his team, and arguably for the program as a whole. Stratford was able to have a solid season during his first year coaching at his alma mater and the Mountaineers finished their condensed spring schedule with a 6-3-1 record. Many expected Stratford to continue his progress during his second season, as WVU was selected as the favorite to win the Mid-American Conference this year. This win over Pitt, along with last season’s upset over Marshall (who went on to win the National Championship), gives Stratford’s Mountaineers two wins over rivals that were ranked in the top 10 nationally when they played. I think this is even more impressive when you consider that it only took 12 matches under Stratford to get those two wins.
Excitement should be growing about the program’s future with Stratford as the head coach and I think that it already is. The crowd at the Backyard Brawl was electric and very invested in the match, as was pointed out by the game’s commentators on ESPN+ multiple times. I can honestly say that as a WVU soccer fan it made me smile to see a packed house at Dlesk Stadium when I turned the game on last night, and I was even more excited to see the Mountaineers pull off such a big win early in the season.
The West Virginia football team is kicking off the 2021 season with a trip Maryland to take on the Terrapins. The Mountaineers narrowly lead this close series with a record of 28-22-2 but have dominated the rivalry in recent years, winning nine out of the last 10 matchups. The last time these two programs faced off was in 2015 when WVU blew out UMD by a score of 45-6. And the Mountaineers also won the last game in College Park, thanks to this deep field goal by Josh Lambert:
There are lots of other notable wins for WVU in this rivalry. In 1977, the Mountaineers were able to hold off a comeback by the #11 Terrapins to escape with a 24-16 upset win in College Park. Quarterback Jeff Hostetler followed up his debut win over #9 Oklahoma in 1982 by helping #17 WVU knock of the Terps, 19-18. Hostetler also led the #20 Mountaineers to a 31-21 win in 1983 when UMD was ranked #17. And in 1988, #12 WVU won the highest scoring game in the series with a 55-24 win in Morgantown.
Not only will this game be the season opener for Neal Brown’s third year at WVU, but it is also the first game without a capacity limit in over a year for the Mountaineers. So, although this is a road game, many WVU fans will be making the trip to the Washington, D.C., area to cheer on their Mountaineers during Labor Day Weekend.
WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP
- Rivalry week continues for West Virginia athletics, as the #11 WVU women’s soccer team prepares to host #7 Penn State on Thursday night. The Mountaineers have been climbing back up in the rankings, after losing to #3 Virginia earlier this season, and this match could help them continue that climb. Since the loss to UVA, WVU has been on a two-game winning streak to improve to 3-1 this season. Hopefully the Mountaineers can keep up that momentum and knock off undefeated Penn State.
- Fifth-year senior Briana Lynch of the West Virginia volleyball team has been named the WVU Student-Athlete of the Week. Lynch led the Mountaineers to three wins at the Old Dominion Invitational this past weekend. WVU defeated Loyola, ODU, and Hampton to start the 2021 season with a 3-0 record. The Mountaineers will return to action on Friday and Saturday when they face Michigan and Navy at a tournament hosted by Navy.
AROUND THE BIG 12
- #2 Oklahoma’s season opener at Tulane this Saturday has been relocated to Norman, as a result of Hurricane Ida. The Green Wave is also having to practice away from home in Birmingham, Alabama, this week.
- #7 Iowa State has released its initial depth chart for the 2021 season, and it reflects that the Cyclones have been building depth under head coach Matt Campbell.
ODDS AND ENDS
- Hurricane Ida is also causing some temporary relocations in the NFL. The New Orleans Saints are in Dallas as they prepare for their season opener against Green Bay. The Saints are supposed to host the Packers, so it is uncertain if that game will be relocated or played at all during Week 1.
- The defending Super Bowl Champions are looking to clear cap space in order to make another run at the NFL title. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are working with wide receiver Mike Evans to restructure his contract to clear the necessary cap space.
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