The WVU Men’s Soccer team is headed to the Elite Eight for the first time since 1981.
In Tulsa, Ok., West Virginia head coach Dan Stratford’s No. 11 seed Men’s Soccer team absolutely dominated the No. 8 seed Tulsa Golden Hurricanes for the entirety of regulation.
The WVU back line only allowed the University of Tulsa’s strikers in enough to send rockets wide and high, surrendering only two shots in the entire first half.
A stagnant Mountaineer side sought the go-ahead goal, but couldn’t secure it in the first half. Despite four shots, Tulsa keeper Alex Lopez tallied a trio of saves. WVU’s fifth year goalkeeper Steven Tekesky didn’t register a single save in the first half, but found himself tested slightly more in the second.
Entering halftime scoreless is a phenomenon that Stratford’s crew is well-acquainted with, but the scoreboard, only a few minutes into the second half, almost showed a very different story. In the 51st minute, Tulsa’s striker Malik Henry-Scott drilled a ball into the bottom right of Tekesky’s goal, but it was a quick save. Even still, it signified that a single slip-up could be the difference between a post-season cut short and a Mountaineer berth in the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 1981. It was as if that recognition lit a fire under the West Virginia offensive presence.
The remainder of the second half featured death grip defense from WVU. On offense, a litany of shots raining around Lopez, including four within the 61st minute alone, but nothing fell. Despite so much on the line for these two top seeds, the two concluded a conservative 90 minutes scoreless and without much fanfare.
The dreaded 10 minutes of the first overtime came and passed quickly as well. Tekesky notched his second save of the night off the foot of forward Alex Meinhard in the 96th minute, a shot which easily could have completely ended the Mountaineers’ season. Tekesky stood firm, put his body behind the ball, and the two teams moved to double overtime.
It only took a minute and 16 seconds for the Mountaineers to finally secure the go-ahead, and winning, goal. Freshman midfielder Otto Ollikainen, who made his PK last game to help advance the team to this point, scored off a corner kick in the 102nd minute to send the WVU Men’s Soccer team to the NCAA quarterfinal action.
— WVU Men's Soccer (@WVUMensSoccer) November 28, 2021
Stratford’s crew will play either No. 3 seed Georgetown or Providence; that game will play at 12 p.m. EST on Nov. 28. In the event that Georgetown is superior, the quarterfinal action will relocate to Washington D.C. If Providence wins, Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium will wipe off the dust and host the Elite Eight match.