Backyard Brawl begins home slate for WVU men’s soccer

Gold and Blue Nation

Elijah Borneo (white pinnie) and Tony Pineda battle for a ball at an Aug. 10, 2021 practice for WVU men’s soccer. (Photo: Sam Coniglio)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University men’s soccer team returns to Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium for the 2021 home opener against No. 3 Pitt on Monday, Aug. 30. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.

The first 550 fans in attendance for the home-opening fixture will receive a WVU men’s soccer cowbell. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance by visiting WVUGAME.com to avoid lines at the gate on game day. When purchasing online, tickets are $5 each and $3 for groups of 10 or more. All tickets are general admission.

At the stadium ticket window on game day, tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for youth and seniors and $3 for groups. The discounted online pricing will be available until kickoff of the match.

WVU students are admitted for free with a valid WVU Student ID.

Fans who are unable to attend the match can follow along with live stats at WVUsports.com. Additionally, the match can be seen live on ESPN+, with Nick Farrell and Adam Zundell on the call, as well as heard on 91.7-FM in Morgantown.

“I know our guys are excited,” WVU coach Dan Stratford said. “Whether they are a domestic player, from West Virginia, or an international, they know of a team that’s a local rival, and this is no different. So, if they don’t quite know what this game stands for and what it means, then I hope the crowd will have that impact, and I hope the occasion will give them a lasting memory of what a rivalry like this is.

“It’s a great fixture for us; it’s a great game. It’s a fantastic opponent, and to be the best, you have to beat the best. We’ll be coming up against one of the very best on Monday night.”

Monday marks the 50th all-time meeting between the Mountaineers (1-0) and Panthers (1-0). In all, WVU leads the series, 34-10-5, including 18-4-3 in Morgantown. Of note, West Virginia has played Pitt more than any other team in program history.

The contest is just the third Backyard Brawl matchup in the past decade. The two schools last met on Oct. 23, 2018, in Morgantown, a 2-1 Mountaineer victory.

WVU is 13-4 in home openers since Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium opened in 2004, including wins in five consecutive seasons to begin the home campaign.

Last time out, the Mountaineers kicked off the 2021 season with a 2-0 win at Robert Morris on Aug. 26, in Moon Township, Pennsylvania. Redshirt junior forward Dyon Dromers got WVU on the board less than two minutes into the match, which proved to be the game-winning goal. Sophomore forward Ciro Bourlot Jaeggi also found the back of the net, scoring in the 79th minute. Fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris, senior defender Aaron Denk Gracia and freshman midfielder Otto Ollikainen were awarded assists in the win.

WVU outshot the Colonials, 12-3, helping the squad win its fifth straight season opener, dating back to the 2017 campaign. Fifth-year senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky made two saves against RMU, earning his 34th career win and 21st shutout, both good for No. 4 in program history.

Pitt is led by sixth-year coach Jay Vidovich, who is 45-45-6 in his time with the Panthers. The squad, which finished 16-4 in 2020-21 with an appearance in the College Cup semifinals, opened the new season with a 7-0 win over Duquesne on Aug. 26, at home.

Pitt sits No. 3 in the initial United Soccer Coaches National Poll, which was released earlier this month. It marked the highest preseason ranking in program history. Additionally, The Panthers were picked to win the ACC in the league’s preseason poll.

A pair of Panthers – midfielder Valentin Noel and defender Jasper Loeffelsend – were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List prior to the start of the season. Meanwhile, midfielder Veljko Petkovic, the 2020-21 TopDrawerSoccer.com Player of the Year, also returns to the team this fall.

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