WLU Women’s and Men’s Soccer season come to a disappointing end

Both West Liberty University men and women’s soccer teams put a cap on their respectable seasons this past Saturday, and look forward to building throughout the offseason to hopefully take the next step forward for their programs.

Beginning with the Lady Hilltoppers, their season can be described as a tale of two fortunes, with the initial part of the season being highlighted by thrilling victories and the back end of the season being shadowed by crushing injuries and defeats.

West Liberty’s start to the 2021 season was perhaps as strong as anybody throughout the entire Mountain East Conference. Through the first seven games of the season, West Liberty had posted an impressive 4-2-1 record, and began their winning ways with a 1-0 win over Glenville State College. A goal in the middle of the first half by Anne Williams sealed Glenville’s fate, and the Hilltopppers did not look back from that goal. Their next win came against Alderson Broaddus University, in which the Hilltoppers initially started off slow, but found two second half goals by Isabella Aperfine and Kaelyn Oskin to claim victory by the final score of 2-1. Following a loss to Frostburg, WLU picked up back-to-back wins against Fairmont State University and Wheeling University. A thrilling goal by Aperfine put the Hilltoppers over the hump against Fairmont State in the middle of the second half, while two goals by Oskin sank Wheeling before they even got a chance to settle in.

After the hot start, the Hilltoppers proceeded to post a 6-3-3 record, in what appeared to be a playoff berth in the making. However, injuries to key contributors in Oskin, Georgia Richardson, and Olivia Montgomery proved to be fatal for West Liberty, as the squad lost an eye popping six straight contests to bounce any hopes they had of the playoff away. Any team that lost both of their captains to injury would have a tough time winning games and that’s what happened to the Hilltoppers.

The Hilltoppers certainly had their chances to at least salvage a low seed playoff spot. The losses that hurt the worst were against Glenville State, who finished the season with just four wins, and West Virginia Wesleyan. The Hilltoppers, on several occasions during their six game losing streak, were faced with “win-and-you’re-in” opportunities, but were outscored by a staggering 2:12 ratio, which just further sealed the black and gold’s fate.

With the skid, the Lady Hilltoppers finished the season with a 6-9-3 record, including a 1-5-2 record during away contests. There is some light at the end of the tunnel, however, as the Hilltoppers return quite a bit of their roster next year, the program appears to be heading in the right direction. The heartbreak from this year will surely provide some motivation for next season.

The Hilltopper men’s soccer team had a difficult time trying to build any momentum during the season, as their longest win streak throughout the year was capped out at two games on two separate occasions. After the end of their season, the men’s soccer team should not be entirely upset about how the year went, but rather looking forward to next year’s season and beyond. After a 6-12-0 finish on the year, it is easy to look at the record and grimace, but there needs to be a focus placed beyond the record and towards the direction of what lies beneath.

Within the record, West Liberty had six contests decided by just a single goal, in which all the match ups were hard fought and effort driven down to the final minute of regulation. West Liberty is losing a couple of prominent names during the offseason, including Bernardo Vilchis, Mikel Ubeda, and Arun Sankar, but return a heavy undergraduate class sure to propel West Liberty to improvements in the season moving forward.

For both teams the future carries much promise. The teams will now start training for the offseason soon as they look to make next year better than the one that just concluded. For more information on either soccer team, visit HilltopperSports.com.