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WVU men’s soccer headed to Elite Eight with 2OT win at Tulsa

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.

Freshman midfielder Otto Ollikainen scored the golden goal in the 102nd minute to send the Mountaineers into the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 1981, as well as the first time in program history in the current NCAA Tournament format. Sophomore midfielder Ryan Crooks and fifth-year senior defender Kevin Morris earned assists on the game-winning tally.

“That’s a very good team that we’ve just beaten,” said WVU coach Dan Stratford of Tulsa. “I thought that once we showed that we could set up the high press, they had to change. And they did a little bit.

“We had to grind this out. We had to fight and dig really, really deep. The biggest message they had going into tonight was to have no regrets. From that perspective, it was unbelievable.”

The Mountaineers (12-3-5) held a 10-8 advantage over Tulsa (16-2-1) in shots, including 7-2 in shots on goal. WVU also had a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.

How It Happened 

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.

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.

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).

PItt MF Michael Sullivan

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