MORGANTOWN, W. Va. - The Stetson men's soccer team (0-2-0) dropped a 1-0 decision at No. 18 West Virginia (2-0-0) on Monday afternoon in the first ever meeting between the two teams.
The Hatters were able to keep the ball early, holding possession for much of the first half, but Stetson was only able to turn that into three shots, none of which were on goal. The Mountaineers started to disrupt the momentum with aggressive, earning five corner kicks and tallying four shots in the first frame.
West Virginia took the advantage in the 30th minute on what appeared at first to be an own goal, but what later credited as a score for Jamie Merriam. A Mountaineer corner kick into the box was headed by Merriam toward the back post, and eventually found its way into the back of the net. The score gave West Virginia a 1-0 lead it never relinquished.
Stetson was able to garner a few more chances in the second half, including a good look from the top of box by senior Kai Eckenrode. Unfortunately, the forward's shot found the gloves of West Virginia goalkeeper Pat Eavenson.
The Hatters' best chance at goal came in the 51st minute when junior Evan Jimmo was fouled just outside the box. Stetson setup for the free kick, and senior Jonathan Mendoza ripped a shot towards the goal, but it was deflected by the West Virginia wall and sent out of play.
Stetson had a number of offensive opportunities late in the game, getting the ball into the West Virginia box multiple times, but the Hatters could not put together a score that would have tied the game.
“We had the possession today,” Head Coach T. Logan Fleck said. “We just could not hit the back of the net. The way we moved the ball against a team that is ranked that high is good to see. We are just now starting to play off each other. We are going to improve.”
Stetson returns to action on Saturday, September 1, as they travel to take on Houston Baptist at 8:00 p.m. The Hatters' home-opener will be on Friday, Sept. 7 at 7:00 p.m., hosting Jacksonville in the first game of Atlantic Sun Conference play.
UPDATE: Jonathan Mendoza and JJ Bostic were named to the All-Tournament Team for their performances against West Virginia and Penn State.