Wheeling, W. Va. – Through the first 45 minutes of play on Wednesday night, the Wheeling University Men’s Soccer team (1-2-1, 1-1-1) were held at bay. However, they busted out with two late goals as the Cardinals ended the night with a 2-2 tie with West Virginia Wesleyan. The tie moves them to a tie for fourth in the Mountain East Conference (MEC) as their goal of making one of the top four spots in the conference stays the course.
At the half, Wheeling was trailing West Virginia Wesleyan 1-0 and got off just two shots in the first half. Their Monday changed as they came out for the second half and they sent the ball towards the net. Harry Martin got off the first shot of the half in the 47th minute, missing high left. A few minutes later, Salem Mwelwa put a shot on goal as the Cardinals began to find their groove. The big break came in the 65th minute when a West Virginia Wesleyan Yellow Card. Set up a Wheeling Penalty Kick. Richard Afolayanka would be the one to take the kick and put the ball in the bottom left corner of the net to make it a 2-1 game. It was Afolayanka’s team leading third goal of the season and got Wheeling right back into the game.
Even after the goal, the second half shots just kept coming for Wheeling. Diego Buenano and Richard Afolayanka each room shots and each missed wide as Wheeling tried to take the advantage. Then, in the 75th minute, the ball was bouncing around the front of the net and fell in front of Buenano off a pass from Harry Martin. Buenano took advantage and gave Wheeling the lead with his first career collegiate goal. His teammates mobbed him in the right corner of the end zone and Wheeling would take a 2-1 lead. The Cardinals would hold the lead for the next 10 minutes as they tried to seal their second conference victory. However, in the 87th minute, the Bobcats got on the board to tie the game at 2-2. That is where things would stay for the final four minutes and the game ended in that 2-2 tie.
The first half didn’t see nearly as much action as the team’s jockeyed for position. The Wheeling offense managed just two shots during that time but the work of the defense kept the game scoreless. For the second straight game, Carlos Molina got the start in net and made one save in that first half on two shots faced while the opposition also made one save. Both defenses were able to keep the ball in the midfield area and a flurry of Goals sent the ball back and forth down the field. However, the Bobcats created more opportunities for themselves and took four shots from the eighth minute to the 24th minute. That persistence would pay off in the 25rh minute when they knocked in their first goal of the night to take a 1-0 lead.
As the first half went on, the back and forth continued for both teams. Things would get chilly during that time with three Yellow Cards got handed out over that time. However, the chippier things got, the more Wheeling would take advantage. They ended the first half with the final shot in the 41st minute of the game when Andrew Bell took advantage of a Bobcat foul. He sent the ball towards the bottom of the net but it was saved to keep Wesleyan ahead 1-0. The team’s would break for halftime with that 1-0 score still in tact. The Cardinals then made their adjustments and rallied to finish the game in a tie.
Diego Buenano and Richard Afolayanka led the way with one goal each in the tie. For Afolayanka, it was his team leading third goal of the season and Beunano notched his first career goal. Harry Martin rounded out the team’s offensive leaders, taking two shots and putting one on goal. Carlos Molina faced five shots on goal and made three saves on the night. He continues the string of Wheeling goalkeepers who held the opposition to three goals or less for the fourth straight game.
The Wheeling University Men’s Soccer team returns to action on Saturday, September 10th, when they hit the road to take on Frostburg State at 7:30 PM.