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THE SHOTGUN THROWDOWN: West Virginia men’s soccer team makes history

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Good morning! This is the Shotgun Throwdown, your daily West Virginia sports roundup.

Photo by Hunter Langley

Welcome, By-Godders, to The Shotgun Throwdown, WVU’s best place for sports links, information, sophomoric humor, and daily distractions.

HISTORIC RANKING

The West Virginia men’s soccer team has moved up to #3 in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Men’s National Poll, which is the highest ranking in the poll in program history. The Mountaineers climbed up in the rankings after defeating Dayton, 3-0, and St. Bonaventure, 4-0, to remain undefeated this season with a record of 6-0-2.

Much of WVU’s success is a result of its leadership from its three fifth-year seniors. Defender Kevin Morris, goalkeeper Steven Tekesky, and midfielder Pau Jimenez Albelda all wanted to be a part of what could be a special season for the Mountaineers and head coach Dan Stratford was happy to welcome them back.

Morris and Tekesky have been vital in WVU’s ability to force five shutouts and allow just four goals in its first eight matches. Morris has played every minute for the Mountaineers this season and he the experienced leader of the team’s defense. He has also gotten involved on the offensive end, with two goals and one assist so far this season. Tekesky has also played every minute this year and has 15 saves for a 78.9% save percentage. Jimenez Albelda has been WVU’s facilitator, leading the team with three assists.

The Mountaineers begin Mid-American Conference play tonight against Akron. WVU is expecting a large crowd for the match, and it will also be streamed on ESPN+.

BATTLE VERSUS #1 TEXAS

Back-to-back matches at #1 Texas await the West Virginia volleyball team. The Mountaineers are having a great season. After going 10-11 last year, WVU has started the 2021 season with a 12-1 record. The Mountaineers won their first 10 matches before falling to #14 Penn State, but they have started another winning streak ahead of their matchup with the top team in the nation.

WVU started Big 12 play with two wins over Oklahoma last week. Fifth-year senior Adrian Ell was a key factor in the Mountaineers’ wins and that earned her the honor of being the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week. Ell and the Mountaineers will have a tougher task this week when they face the undefeated Longhorns. WVU has never defeated Texas since joining the Big 12. The first match is tonight at 9 p.m. ET, and Friday’s matchup will start at 8 p.m. ET. Both games will be shown on the Longhorn Network.

WEST VIRGINIA ROUNDUP

  • West Virginia’s offensive line has not had the greatest start to the 2021 season. The Mountaineer line has struggled to consistently run block for star running back Leddie Brown. The line also made costly mistakes that may have cost WVU the game at #4 Oklahoma this past week. Despite the early problems, the Mountaineers remain confident that the o-line will continue to progress and improve as the season continues.
  • The West Virginia rifle team is starting at #3 in the preseason national rankings. The Mountaineers went 7-1 last year and finished in fourth place at the NCAA Championships. WVU starts the season with a huge match at #2 Ole Miss on Saturday.
  • Bob Huggins is heading into his 15th season as the head coach of his alma mater. As preseason practice begins, West Virginia is returning eight players from last year’s squad, which means the remaining seven Mountaineers are all new to the team. Which returners and newcomers are you looking forward to seeing this season?

AROUND THE BIG 12

  • The biggest football game of the week for the Big 12 Conference is #19 Oklahoma State hosting #21 Baylor. Both of the undefeated teams are coming into the game off of wins over ranked opponents. The Bears just picked up a big win over then-#14 Iowa State and the Cowboys knocked off then-#25 Kansas State.

AROUND THE NCAA

  • Week 5 of the 2021 college football season looks like it will be a good one. The weekend is headlined by two games between top-10 opponents. The first will be #8 Arkansas traveling to #2 Georgia. Both teams are undefeated this year and the Razorbacks are coming off of a win over then-#7 Texas A&M, but the Bulldogs are currently favored by almost three touchdowns in this game. The next top-10 matchup is between #7 Cincinnati and #9 Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish look to have the momentum coming into this one, as they blew out then-#18 Wisconsin in Chicago last week, but the Bearcats are currently favored by two points on the road.
  • Another big game this week is the SEC rivalry battle between #1 Alabama and #12 Ole Miss. This game could turn into a shootout, as both teams are averaging over 46 points per game.

ODDS AND ENDS

  • Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady is preparing to make his highly anticipated return to New England, as the Buccaneers are getting set to face the Patriots on Sunday night. Check out what Brady had to say about his upcoming return to his old home stadium.
  • The NFL has one matchup between undefeated teams this week, as the Arizona Cardinals are heading to Los Angeles to face the Rams. A quarterback battle is set to ensue with the Cardinals’ rising star Kyler Murray going up against the Rams’ experienced veteran Matthew Stafford.

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