No. 4 West Virginia men’s soccer earned a 3-0 blowout victory over Dayton in its return to a rainy Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Tuesday night.
Down three men at the whistle due to injury and suspension, Daniel Stratford had to dig into his bench for this match. It paid off, as Kyle Lehnert scored his first goal of the season in the 77th minute before making the critical shot that turned into a Dayton own goal.
“We have continued to talk about the quality of depth that we have within this squad,” Stratford said. “Obviously Kyle and Elijah [Borneo] were both players that played and had significant minutes for us in the spring, so we’re very comfortable with both of them.”
West Virginia scored its first goal in the 20th minute with the help of a free kick near the touchline. Defender Aaron Denk Gracia whipped a shot in off the set piece that was saved by Dayton keeper Marc Kouadio — but Yoran Popovic was there to clean up the mess for his second goal of the season.
Lehnert added his goal late in the second half, just ten minutes before setting up the finalizing own goal in the 88th minute.
“It took a little longer than I would have liked, but I’m very, very pleased with how we came out in the second half,” Stratford said. “WE were a little bit quick to release the ball in the first half, and could have played with a bit more composure, but at the same time, a very, very quick and slick surface tonight, it doesn’t take much for a pass to go astray.”
Given his squad’s high spot in the national poll, Stratford has looked for his team to finish matches out with extra goals. He got it from his team tonight against the Flyers.
West Virginia earned its fourth clean sheet of the season with the victory. Goalkeeper Steven Tekesky had an easy night, going all 90 minutes without having to make a save.
In total, the Mountaineers dominated possession, holding the ball for 67 percent of the match.
The unbeaten Mountaineers improve to five wins and two draws on the season, tying the best start for the program since 2006. They next host St. Bonaventure, another Atlantic 10 opponent, on Saturday.
For Stratford, he looks at this match as another opportunity to display the quality of his squad.
“I think I want us to continue to own it, to embrace the fact that we border on that arrogance and confidence to say when teams come here, they are lesser opponents than we are, and we’re going to have that ruthless element to us that when we go 1-0 up, we’re gonna go 2-0 up, and we’re gonna go 3-0 up,” Stratford said. “We have yet to have that game this season, today was close, but we’ve really broken out and shown just how ruthless we can be and that killer instinct.”
Kickoff between the Bonnies and the No. 4 Mountaineers is set for 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+.