The West Virginia University men’s soccer team returns to the road on March 14, for a Sunday afternoon match at Western Michigan, with kickoff at WMU Soccer Complex in Kalamazoo, Michigan, slated for 1 p.m. ET.
“I think it’s going to be a very different game compared to what we faced at home against Northern Illinois last weekend,” first-year head coach Dan Stratford said. “Western Michigan has a very clear identity of how they approach the game, and they’re a very physical and big team. We’ll have to prepare for that, but we go into the game with a lot of confidence after getting the win at home and going into this game 2-0.”
Sunday’s match marks the ninth meeting between Mountaineers (2-0-0, 1-0-0 MAC) and Broncos (2-1-0, 0-1-0 MAC). After WMU claimed a 3-1 victory in last season’s contest in Morgantown, the all-time series between the two squads is tied at 4-4-2, along with a 2-2-1 all-time mark in Kalamazoo.
WVU enters its first conference road match after opening Mid-American Conference play on March 6, with a 1-0 victory over Northern Illinois in Morgantown. Redshirt freshman defender Bjarne Thiesen tallied the lone score of the home-opening match, scoring his first career game winner with a 12th-minute penalty goal after the Huskies were whistled for a foul inside the box. Thiesen’s goal against NIU marked his second of the season, with both scores coming on penalty kick opportunities.
Senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky recorded four saves in the win, including a 77th-minute diving punch to deny a would-be NIU equalizer.
Tekesky and the Mountaineer back line have produced two straight shutouts to open the 2021 season. The last time the Mountaineers opened the year with two consecutive clean sheets was in 2017. West Virginia is currently tied for No. 1 in the NCAA in shutout percentage (1.00) and sits No. 1 in the MAC in shutouts (2).
Thiesen and junior forward Tony Pineda are tied for first in the MAC in points per game (2.00) and goals per game (1.00) Tekesky also is No. 1 in the league in shutouts (2), shutouts per game (1.00), save percentage (1.000) and goals against average (0.00).
Western Michigan is led by head coach Chad Wiseman, who has put together a 131-68-25 overall record in eight seasons with the Broncos. A two-time MAC Coach of the Year, he led WMU to its first-ever MAC regular season championship in 2017.
The Broncos enter Sunday’s contest with a 2-1 mark in 2021, as well as a 0-1 record in conference play. The squad opened its MAC season with a 2-1 loss at SIU Edwardsville on March 7. WMU continued its road swing at Spring Arbor on March 10, notching a 2-1 victory over the Cougars to conclude its nonconference slate.
Mike Malaragni leads the squad with two goals on the season, while he also leads the team in shots (7), points (4) and shots on goal (6). In goal, Isaac Walker has recorded eight saves, as well as one shutout, this season.