MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Mountaineer fans have fancied Dan Stratford, in his second season as the WVU Men’s Soccer head coach, as the future of the program’s success. A rocket to the top of the national rankings was always the goal, and WVU soccer alum (2004-07) Stratford brings his coaching style to a program that hasn’t been as fruitful in more than a decade.
Of the teams that play at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown’s Women’s Soccer team has consistently been in the top-25, but under 13 seasons of former men’s coach Marlon LeBlanc, the rankings haven’t risen past no. 15 in 2016, barring an outlier no. 4 ranking in his first season on Oct. 31, 2006. The team now comes full-circle, as that 2006 team featured a junior Stratford at midfield. Stratford tallied four goals that season and finished his Mountaineer career a year later with 20 goals, making him one of the program’s most decorated players.
Now, Stratford’s second season on the opposite side of the roster has already produced a no. 4 ranking in the United Soccer Coaches NCAA Division I Men’s National Poll more than a month earlier than in 2006. The 2021 team has gone from unranked entering the season’s second match with then-no. 3 Pitt to no. 5 against Loyola (Md.). The team stayed put following a 1-0 win over Ohio State, but has bumped up to no. 4 in this week’s poll, published earlier today.
The rise continues 📈
— WVU Men's Soccer (@WVUMensSoccer) September 14, 2021
Stratford’s Mountaineer team (4-0-1) currently ranks two spots higher than the reigning national champion, and in-state rival, Marshall Thundering Herd (3-1-1), which WVU will clash with this Friday in Huntington, W.Va at 7 p.m. Marshall will be WVU’s third ranked opponent of the season.