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A ‘Perfect Start’ fuels WVU to 3-0 season-opening win vs Charlotte in Stratford’s debut

Photo courtesy WVU Athletics /

From WVU Athletics report

The last time Dan Stratford walked off a soccer field as a winning coach was at Highmark Stadium in December 2019 when University of Charleston won the NCAA Division III Men’s Championship.

On Friday, in Stratford’s debut coaching his alma mater, West Virginia’s men’s soccer team found the back of the net three times in the first half to grab a 3-0, season-opening victory at Charlotte on Friday evening, at Transamerica Field in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The Mountaineers didn’t waste any time getting on the board, as freshman Ciro Bourlot Jaeggi took a cross from classmate Jesus De Vicente in the fourth minute. The ball bounced off the tip of the Charlotte keeper’s glove and ricocheted off the right post to score the first goal of the season.

West Virginia didn’t look back after that, tallying two more scores in the opening half in the squad’s fifth consecutive season opener on the road.

“This was a perfect start,” Stratford said. “The guys were excellent tonight. We may not have played to the quality that we wanted to at times, but as far as effort, application and resilience, it was a perfect application from the guys in that regard. They can be incredibly proud of what they’ve achieved today.”

Following Jaeggi’s game winner, the Mountaineers got a second look in the 31st minute after Charlotte was called for a foul inside the box to set up the penalty kick. In the one-on-one opportunity with 49ers keeper Daniel Kuzemka, redshirt freshman Bjarne Thiesen sent one to the upper left corner to score in his Mountaineer debut and put WVU up 2-0.

Just minutes later, in the 36th, West Virginia placed its third shot of the night into the net, as junior Tony Pineda broke away and pulled Kuzemka away from the goal mouth, sending the ball bouncing into the open goal. The Mountaineers went to the locker room with the 3-0 lead.

Senior goalkeeper Steven Tekesky and the West Virginia back line earned the first clean sheet of the season, as Tekesky recorded three saves in the win. With his 15th career shutout, the Raymore, Missouri, native climbs into a tie for fifth place all-time in the category.

“As the game went on, I really hoped that they could get to 90 minutes with a clean sheet because Tekesky and the back line deserved that clean sheet today with their effort,” Stratford continued.

Although Charlotte came away with the 16-5 advantage in shots and 9-0 advantage in corner kicks, the Mountaineer defense denied the 49ers the chance to get on the scoreboard. WVU held a 4-3 edge in shots on goal.

Nine Mountaineers made their first West Virginia debuts in Friday’s win, while Jaeggi and Thiesen recorded their first career goals representing the Old Gold and Blue.

Up next, WVU returns to Morgantown for the 2021 home opener, as it begins conference play hosting Northern Illinois. Kickoff from Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown is set for 12 p.m. ET, and the game will be streamed live on ESPN+.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Danny Griffin

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