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Success in 2023 paved a brand new highway for the way forward for WVU’s males’s soccer program

MORGANTOWN — For the 2023 West Virginia College males’s soccer staff, this season was one for the historical past books.

In simply the fourth 12 months with head coach Dan Stratford on the helm, the Mountaineers rapidly grew to become one of many extra harmful groups within the nation. Starting the season unranked, WVU grew to become a staple in not simply the top-25 rankings, however the top-10.

The Mountaineers made historical past in a number of methods, setting a program file for wins (17), a 5-2 victory at house over then-No. 1 Marshall on Oct. 18, reaching the best nationwide rating in program historical past (No. 2), setting a number of attendance information at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium and reaching WVU’s first look within the School Cup semifinals.

After ending the 2022 season 7-7-4 with solely 4 victories at house in Morgantown and a 2-6-1 file in true highway video games, the 2023 Mountaineers achieved an total file of 17-3-4, whereas going unbeaten in Morgantown with three attracts (9-0-3) and profitable six video games on the highway (6-2-1). WVU held a 2-1 file in neutral-site video games.

WVU’s season got here to an finish Friday night time with a 1-0 loss to perennial energy Clemson within the School Cup semifinals in Louisville, Ky.

“I wish to suppose we’re an aspiring Clemson,” Stratford mentioned Friday. “We’d like to have ten School Cup appearances and three nationwide championships however for us in the meanwhile, we need to ensure that we’re a prime ten staff persistently 12 months in and 12 months out, hopefully working towards a nationwide championship ultimately.”

Sophomore striker Marcus Caldeira (second staff) and senior winger Yutaro Tsukada (third staff) had been each named All-Individuals.

The 2023 Mountaineers will ceaselessly be remembered within the historical past of this system for the issues they achieved on the sector, however they’ll even be remembered because the staff that modified the face of WVU males’s soccer going ahead.

A number of attendance information of over 3,100 folks had been set at DDSS this season, and the workers and gamers all understand how essential the help of the followers is for the staff. Junior Otto Ollikainen, who will return subsequent season for WVU, expressed how a lot the help meant to the staff this season and the way a lot they stay up for returning to play in entrance of their house crowd this coming August.

“The help of the followers as we speak and all through the season means loads to us,” he mentioned. “We all know we have now the very best followers within the nation and to see them present up by the a whole bunch all the best way right here in Louisville to help us is very large. It says loads concerning the soccer tradition that’s constructing in our faculty and we need to depart a legacy that may be remembered.”

The Mountaineers will bid farewell to some key gamers from the 2023 squad like goalkeeper Jackson Lee, Tsukada, Ryan Baer and Sergio Ors Navarro. However others like Caldeira, Ollikainen, Max Broughton and Freddie Jorgensen are slated to return for Stratford and WVU in 2024. Senior midfielder Dyon Dromers, who might have been a starter this season, can even be set to return from a season-long harm for the Mountaineers in 2024.

For those shifting on, Stratford says they’ll ceaselessly be remembered for his or her contributions to this system. Some gamers, like Baer who spent all 4 years below Stratford since he grew to become head coach, confirmed their appreciation for his or her coach after the loss on Friday.

“I can’t thank him sufficient for what he has executed and meant to the staff and program,” Baer mentioned earlier than straight addressing Stratford. “Thanks for being an amazing coach and particular person to each one in all us, we wouldn’t be anyplace with out you.”

Stratford reciprocated the emotions.

“All of the seniors imply an unimaginable quantity and this has been a particular group,” he mentioned. “All of the seniors utterly purchased on this 12 months and it’s unhappy as a result of I like these boys and now we must transfer on and reload as we do. It’s the tip of their journey however they’ve served the college and staff very nicely and it’s only a nice group. There aren’t any dangerous eggs and the tradition of the staff was unimaginable.”

The 2023 WVU males’s soccer staff might be etched within the historical past books ceaselessly and there isn’t any cause to imagine the Mountaineers received’t be a constant contender nationally for years to come back.