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1. LeBlanc gets Mountaineers up to speed
September 18th, 2006 10:46PM
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For a team that didn't have a coach until hours before the start of preseason practice, the West Virginia men's team isn't doing too badly.

The Mountaineers are 6-0-2 and ranked 12th in the Soccer America Men's Top 25 going into Tuesday's game at No. 1 Virginia.

In the aftermath of the ouster of Mike Seabolt, who was relieved of his head coaching duties in mid-July, West Virginia didn't have a long time to look for a new coach. From among nearly 100 candidates, Marlon LeBlanc, an assistant coach at Penn State the last five years, was named the new Mountaineer head coach on Aug. 9.

The next two weeks went by in a flash as LeBlanc's time was consumed with practices, tape sessions and meetings -- lots of meetings with staff and players to get everyone on the same page for the season and meetings with realtors to find a house for his family he left back in University Park.

The long days paid off as West Virginia opened the 2006 season with a 1-0 win over MAAC champion Fairfield. What made the victory significant is that the Mountaineers won without star Jarrod Smith, who had been indefinitely suspended from the team for unspecified reasons three days earlier. Smith, who spent part of August touring England with New Zealand's national team, was reinstated in the third game of the season.

LeBlanc's task of getting the Mountaineers up to speed was aided by the presence of nine returning starters. Besides Smith, who has scored five goals in six games, West Virginia is led by goalie Nick Noble, who holds the school record with 30 career shutouts, and English midfielder Andy Wright. The Mountaineers have gotten balanced scoring as four goalscorers had never scored in a college match entering the season.

West Virginia, picked to finish fifth in the Big East's Blue Division, is the only unbeaten team left in the Big East and are 3-0-1 in conference play after a 2-2 tie at ranked South Florida and 3-0 win at DePaul over the weekend.

D1 MEN'S UNBEATEN TEAMS:

TEAM RECORD (NEXT GAME)
Clemson 7-0-0
(vs. Longwood, Wednesday)
Virginia 7-0-0 (vs. West Virginia, Tuesday)
Washington 7-0-0 (vs. Oregon State, Sunday)
SMU 8-0-1 (at Saint Louis, Friday)
Duke 6-0-1 (vs. UNC Wilmington, Tuesday)
Fordham 5-0-1 (vs. Iona, Wednesday)
Kentucky 5-0-1 (vs. Alabama A&M, Wednesday)
UIC 6-0-2 (at Detroit, Sunday)
West Virginia 6-0-2 (at Virginia, Tuesday)
Colgate 4-0-2 (vs. Lafayette, Saturday)
Delaware 2-0-2 (vs. Villanova, Tuesday)



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