After months of waiting football season is finally here. But football isn’t the only sport that should be on the radar of West Virginia fans. The WVU men’s and women’s soccer teams are both in the early stages of their seasons and they’re both ranked! They also have multiple matchups against top-25 opponents September. Let’s take a look at the biggest games for Mountaineer athletics this month.
Honorable Mention: #18 Men’s Soccer at Penn State (September 2nd)
The #18 WVU men’s soccer team was humbled on Monday night, with its 3-0 loss in the Backyard Brawl. #7 Pitt’s explosive offense was too much for the Mountaineers, but West Virginia has another shot at a regional rival this week. WVU’s first game in September is at Penn State. A win in this match will get the Mountaineers back on track as they continue the season.
5. #21 Women’s Soccer at #16 Auburn (September 1st)
The #21 West Virginia women’s soccer team is 2-1-1 after its first few matches in August. The Mountaineers cruised past Saint Joseph’s and Saint Francis, but tied with Indiana and lost to #10 Penn State. WVU has another chance to beat a ranked opponent with its first game in September. The Tigers are undefeated with two easy wins and a couple of draws against fellow ranked teams. The Mountaineers will have their work cut out for them if they want to get a big win on the road. This ranked matchup will be shown on SEC Network+.
4. #21 Women’s Soccer at #11 Georgetown (September 17th)
After that match with Auburn, and a game against #18 Clemson, the WVU women’s soccer team will face its third ranked opponent of the month, #11 Georgetown. Like the Mountaineers, the Hoyas are trying to secure themselves as a top 25 team. Two draws and a loss have GU sliding. One thing that is helping WVU is its variety of players that can score goals. Eight different Mountaineers have scored in their first four games. Sophomore forward Dilary Heredia-Beltran has helped make that possible by proving half of WVU’s assists this season. Senior goalkeeper Kayza Massey has also saved 80% of the shots she has faced to help her tally two early shutouts. FloSports will show this top-25 match between the #21 Mountaineers and Georgetown.
3. Football at Virginia Tech (September 22nd)
The West Virginia football team won a nailbiter, 27-21, against a ranked Virginia Tech team last season to reclaim its Black Diamond Trophy. The stakes are even higher this year considering the two long-time rivals do not have another matchup scheduled in the near future.
Much like the Mountaineers, VT is rebuilding after a 6-7 showing last season. The Hokies have a new coach, Brent Pry, who was previously Penn State’s defensive coordinator. To add to the drama of this rivalry game, Tech has named Marshall transfer, and Charleston, West Virginia, native, Grant Wells as its starting quarterback. Although WVU is also starting a transfer quarterback, there is some pressure on head coach Neal Brown to take care of business against this bitter rival, even if he and the Mountaineers are on the road in a hostile environment. This Thursday night game will be nationally televised on ESPN.
2. #18 Men’s Soccer at #11 Marshall (September 24th)
West Virginia’s second Sun Belt Conference match will be a big one. The Mountaineers will be traveling down the road to face their in-state rival Marshall. Both of these men’s soccer teams have been waiting on this rematch for over a year. Last season, WVU and the Thundering Herd faced off in a nonconference game and tied 2-2 in double overtime in Huntington. It’s unfortunate that scheduling in their new conference has the Mountaineers on the road for this matchup again, but fans should be confident that head coach Dan Stratford will have his team ready to play.
This match is crucial to WVU’s standings in the Sun Belt, as well as potential seeding in the NCAA Tournament. The Herd have the college soccer community’s respect after winning the 2020 NCAA National Championship, and Stratford has the Mountaineers on a solid trajectory to jump to that level. It has not been announced yet, but this match will likely be streamed on ESPN+.
1. Football at #17 Pitt (September 1st)
There is no question what the biggest game of the month is for West Virginia athletics. For 10 long years, WVU football fans have been waiting for the Backyard Brawl to return and it’s finally back.
The Mountaineers currently have a three-game winning streak over the Panthers, with the last win being a 21-20 thriller in 2011. More recently, Pitt went 11-3 last season and won the ACC Championship before losing in the Peach Bowl. On the other side, WVU was 6-7 in 2021 with a 4-5 record in Big 12 Conference play.
This year both teams are starting transfer quarterbacks, but they are coming into the season with different perspectives. The Panthers are hoping to cling to their rediscovered relevancy, while the Mountaineers are trying to rebuild and improve under Neal Brown. Despite their different mindsets coming into the year, both teams know that winning this season-opening game is absolutely crucial to their momentum and success.
To add to the excitement of this rivalry renewal, the game will be nationally televised on ESPN and College GameDay will be hosting their show beforehand. WVU fans know that they are going to travel well, whether the people of Pittsburgh are ready for it or not, and they’re hoping that their Mountaineers bring the same fire and intensity on the field, so they can sing “Country Roads” before heading back to Morgantown.
Be sure to tune in to support WVU for these games and let us know what other matchups you are looking forward to this month!