SEVILLE, Spain - Steven James
’ header from a corner kick set piece proved to be the game winner, as the West Virginia University men’s soccer team defeated the Real Betis Balompié academy team, 2-1, at the Luis Del Sol Training Centre on Saturday morning.
“It was very good for us to come out and get the win,” coach Marlon LeBlanc said. “We were a bit of a MASH unit today because we had five guys with food poisoning. So many of them toughed through it today and we came out and got a result.”
Rising sophomore defender and Spain native Albert Andres-Llop
scored the first goal in the box off a Jad Arslan
assist at the seven-minute mark in the first half.
“It was a sequence of five to six passes that put Albert in position to slot the ball home,” said LeBlanc. “That’s kind of what we work on in our system, in terms of getting our forwards into the attack and our ability to reverse our shape and Albert gets the ball basically inside the 18. For him to go ahead and finish in position was very good.”
“I was very happy because we played Betis, a very good team,” Andres-Llop, native of Villareal, Spain, said. “They competed very well and the first chance I had, I put it away and I was very happy with that.”
The Mountaineers had a couple of other quality chances to extend the lead in the opening half, but Real Betis capitalized on a West Virginia foul in the box as Ricky scored the game-tying goal from a penalty kick.
West Virginia continued its offensive pressure early in the second half and the Mountaineers were able to punish Real Betis on a corner kick. Joey Piatczyc
’s kick found James for the header, giving the Mountaineers the eventual game-winning goal. Piatczyc led the team with four shots, while Logan Lucas
followed with two.
“It was another set piece,” said James, who had family from Sussex, England, in attendance. “We had a few chances on set pieces before and it was nice to finally get one in the back of the net and the eventual game winner.”
The Green and White continued to battle the remainder of the second half and nearly scored off a goal that bounced off the post and away from the net. Mountaineer goalkeeper Stephen Banick
recorded three saves, as Real Betis fired off nine shots. Real Betis used a tandem of Dani and Alberto as keepers. Dani recorded both of the saves.
West Virginia improves to 1-1 in the Spain trip and will play its final match on Tuesday, May 16, against Málaga CF. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. CEST/noon ET.
On Sunday, WVU will attend a LaLiga match between Real Betis Balompié and Atlético Madrid. Coverage of WVU’s tour of Spain will continue on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter by following @WVUMensSoccer and by visiting WVUsports.com.