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Arslan’s Late Goal Leads WVU to Victory

Published: November 8, 2014
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A goal by freshman Jad Arslan in the 86th minute gave the WVU men’s soccer team a 2-1 win at Western Michigan in the regular-season finale on Saturday afternoon.

The win is the fifth in a row for the Mountaineers and improves the overall record to 11-6-1 (3-1-1 MAC). Additionally, WVU clinched the No. 2 seed in the MAC Championship next weekend.

“It’s a resilient squad. A lot has to do with our leadership,” coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We have a great locker room and great kids. This team is battled-tested and they have played a daunting schedule all season. To go on the road and battle the elements is a testament to their character.”

Tied 1-1 entering the final minutes of play, sophomore Mike Desiderio rocketed a left-footed shot from 25 yards out that rang off the crossbar. Arslan dove and headed the rebound over the reach of Western Michigan goalkeeper Chase Rau for his fifth goal of the season.

“The changes that we made today were in the flow of the game,” LeBlanc said. “Coaches can do whatever they want in terms of substitutions and lineups, but it’s all about the kids and they executed today. The fact that we were able to have the lead, concede the lead and then grab it right back shows that this team is a determined team.”

The Mountaineers finished with an 11-9 edge in shots, including 4-3 in shots on goal. Arslan had a game high three shots.

West Virginia took the initial 1-0 lead in the 47th minute on junior Jamie Merriam’s eighth goal of the season. Merriam made a run off passes by freshman Joey Piatczyc and junior Zak Leedom, breaking through the defense and taking a shot past Rau.

Hunter VandenBoom tied the match for the Broncos in the 69th minute. Nick Wysong took a free kick that bounced around the box. Edu Jimenez then took a shot that was saved by senior goalkeeper Lee Johnston, but VandenBoom was able to put home the rebound.

Johnston finished with two saves in the victory. Johnston had the save of the match in the 67th minute, punching a shot by Kyle Farris over the crossbar and out of play.

Merriam nearly scored his second goal of the match with the game tied 1-1 in the 80th minute. Merriam took a turnaround shot that went off the right post. Prior to Merriam’s chance, junior Francio Henry had a header saved by Rau in the 77th minute.

West Virginia will now head to the MAC Championship from Nov. 14-16. The Mountaineers can still host if Akron loses to Buffalo. If Akron wins or ties against Buffalo, they will be the No. 1 seed and host the tournament.

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