Wheeling, W.V. – Wheeling University’s men’s soccer team (2-4-1, 2-2-1) had a tough time last week after flying high in the first four games of the conference season. The Cardinals look for a recovery effort Wednesday night as they host “The Battle for Wheeling” against their longtime rivals West Liberty, starting at 7:30 pm. The Cardinals had a spark in the second half of the game against #6 Gannon and are looking to use that to take momentum back home against West Liberty.
The Cardinals faced their toughest test of the season last time, when they took on #6 Gannon University on the road. Throughout the first half, the Cardinals managed to keep Gannon in check, allowing just one goal in the first 42 minutes of play and one more before halftime to make it 2-0. In the second half, Wheeling kept the one-goal differential. with a goal in the 53rd minute, but the Gold Knight’s potent attack was too much for the Cardinals to overcome. They added three more goals in the second half to go away and take the 6-2 victory.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals showed they can compete with one of the region’s top teams, keeping the one-goal game for nearly half the game. Freshman Diego Buenano kept his streak alive with his third goal of the season, and now has three goals in his last four games. His first career goal tied the game against West Virginia Wesleyan, and his second career goal would win the game against Frostburg State. Three goals from him lead the team so far this season and he is also the team leader with seven points. He has been a key player off the bench for the Cardinals and will look to continue his success on the field.
Another cardinal who has been getting more and more involved in crime lately is wicked Christian Ruud. Ruud scored his first goal of the season against Gannon in the 53rd minute, who by then had made it 2-1 at the start of the second half. In the last three games, Ruud has contributed a goal, an assist and three points by impacting the attacking side of the ball. The Cardinals will try to get off to a quick start in this game and use that momentum to carry them through the rest of the game.
As we head into the last two weeks of September, the Wheeling men’s soccer team is currently out of the conference top four in fifth place at 2-2-1. They are one game behind West Virginia Wesleyan for the coveted fourth place, but they still have plenty of opportunities to try to regain ground. With matches against Charleston and Davis & Elkins coming up next week, the team will have a chance to see where it stands against some of the top teams in the conference. It will be a test run for Wheeling, but they will do their best to stay in the playoff hunt and get a playoff spot for the first time since the 2018 season.
The Cardinals and Hilltoppers are meeting for the eighth time in the show’s history on Wednesday, with Wheeling leading the all-time series 4-3. While not as long and storied as some of the Wheeling/West Liberty clashes, the Cardinals never lost a home game to the Hilltoppers during that span, going 3-0 at Bishop Schmitt Field. Their most recent encounter came in the final game of the 2021 regular season, as the Cardinals honored their former coach Jim Regan with a thrilling 2-1 victory in their final game.
In that game, the Cardinals took the lead in the second minute with a Richard Afolayanka goal, but West Liberty equalized before the break. Former Cardinal Daniel Skarpnes would then give his team the lead in the 46th minute and the team would hold off their rivals for the win. ex-cardinal Tyler Serman started at the net that day and made seven saves out of eight shots faced in the afternoon.
The kickoff for Wednesday night’s game is set for 7:30pm at Bishop Schmitt Field and will be a red with all fans encouraged to wear red. You can watch the game live by clicking HERE or follow Live Stats by clicking HERE.