90 minutes at Georgetown separate WVU from the College Cup

(Dan Stratford pregame Zoom conference)

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Dan Stratford’s second season leading his alma mater at West Virginia has already produced a pair of NCAA Tournament victories and WVU’s deepest run through the bracket in forty years. The No. 11 Mountaineers travel to face No. 3 Georgetown Saturday at noon with a spot in the Men’s Soccer College Cup awarded to the winner of the national quarterfinal match.

“I probably haven’t allowed it to sink in what we have achieved up to this point because we don’t feel like we are done. We still feel like there is so much more to accomplish. What an incredible opportunity Saturday against Georgetown to make even greater inroads to those history books and be the first team to make the Final Four,” said Stratford.

“It is the nature this time of year that as soon as you win one you almost immediately look on to the next one. That’s what we have done here. We took a brief, brief moment to enjoy it and acknowledge the accomplishment but we very quickly turned our attention to Georgetown.”

After receiving a bye in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, West Virginia (12-3-5) advanced past Virginia Tech on penalty kicks in the second round. Last Saturday, WVU won at No. 6 Tulsa, 1-0 in double overtime. Another upset on the road is required for the Mountaineers to progress through the draw.

“We can take a ton of confidence from the experiences in this tournament. The way in which we have gone through and advanced — it doesn’t hurt that we had a penalty shootout and it doesn’t hurt that we have had a double overtime win. I would love to end this one in regulation, obviously. But having some of those adversities and having the challenges and the quality of competition we have had, not just in the postseason but in the regular season as well, bodes well for us going into this game.”

The Hoyas (18-2) have defeated Georgia State and Providence in their first two NCAA Tournament matches. Georgetown has conceded just fourteen goals in twenty matches.

“In terms of what Brian Wiese has done there as head coach and how that program has evolved, being the national champion in 2019, it is pretty spectacular. They have shown incredible growth and have proven that they are a powerhouse.

“The biggest thing with Georgetown ultimately is that they are incredibly organized. They are incredibly well-drilled and bought in to what it is that they do. They look like they are versatile enough to adjust how they defend based on what they see from their opponent.”

Stratford is seeking his sixth trip to an NCAA Final Four and his first at the Division I level.

“The Elite Eight is cool. But I assure you the Final Four is even cooler. I have been very, very fortunate that I went to five Final Fours during my time at Charleston as an assistant coach or a head coach. There is something special about that whole week. There is something special about turning up at the hotel and knowing that you have arrived at the Final Four.

“Not to say I am relieved, I am content with where we are. But it is what I expected and my ambition for this program. I am not giving myself a pat on the back just yet or feel like we have done something amazing. We have done what I expected this program to be able to do.”

The winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal will face the St. Louis-Washington winner at the College Cup in Cary, N.C. on December 10.

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