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WVU

Chartiers Valley grad DiMatteo makes quick impact for West Virginia soccer

| Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018, 7:42 p.m.
Chartiers Valley grad Josh DiMatteo has cracked the starting lineup as a freshman at West Virginia.
Chartiers Valley grad Josh DiMatteo has cracked the starting lineup as a freshman at West Virginia.
Chartiers Valley grad Josh DiMatteo has cracked the starting lineup as a freshman at West Virginia.
Chartiers Valley grad Josh DiMatteo has cracked the starting lineup as a freshman at West Virginia.

The West Virginia men’s soccer coaches knew they were getting a talent when Chartiers Valley graduate Josh DiMatteo arrived on campus. What they didn’t know was exactly how DiMatteo fit into their lineup.

DiMatteo wasn’t sure either. He tempered his expectations knowing the Mountaineers returned a deep, talented roster, and there might not be a lot of opportunities for a freshman.

“I was just hoping to make an impact when I could,” he said.

That impact came sooner rather than later, and DiMatteo did his part to help the Mountaineers (13-5, 5-0) go unbeaten in the Mid-American Conference. DiMatteo, a midfielder, played in 14 of WVU’s 18 matches, starting seven, and had three goals and an assist.

“We knew he was versatile and adaptable,” said assistant coach Andy Wright, a former standout at WVU. “We knew he could help us in some way.

“He’s still adapting and improving … but he’s moving in the right direction.”

DiMatteo, as might be expected, played sparingly early on. Like most freshmen, he had to get used to the speed and physicality of the college game.

He got on the pitch for only two of the Mountaineers’ first six matches for a total of 25 minutes. But he showed enough in that time and through his work in practice to earn more trust from the coaches.

DiMatteo logged eight minutes each against Cincinnati and Dayton, recording his first collegiate point, an assist, against the Flyers. Then, in a loss to Radford on Sept. 25, DiMatteo came off the bench and played 66 minutes.

He was on the fast track from there. He got his first start in the next match, a win over Delaware, and scored his first goal in the following match, a 2-0 win over Binghamton.

“Whenever I stepped in against Dayton and got my first assist, that really helped me settle in,” DiMatteo said. “I’ve been playing more comfortable and composed.

“After the Dayton game, I knew (the goal) was coming. I was getting my chances, but I wasn’t capitalizing. When I went down the sideline and saw the open net, I thought, ‘I’ve got to have this one.’ ”

Added Wright: “The thing that’s gotten him where he is with us is the work ethic. Early on in the season, when we were offering information, he was taking it on board.”

Though DiMatteo has made strides, there remains plenty of room for growth.

Wright said DiMatteo must continue to develop his on-field smarts and improve his defensive tactics. DiMatteo said there still are times during matches when he feels like he is rushing and needs to down-shift to play more controlled.

“I still think my composure can improve,” he said. “In college soccer, your (scoring) chances are few, and you have to capitalize when you get them.”

DiMatteo’s contributions not only helped the Mountaineers win the MAC regular-season title, they helped WVU jump into the national rankings for the first time this season. On Oct. 30, the United Soccer Coaches poll had the Mountaineers at No. 16, and three other polls had WVU in the top 25.

With a young roster, WVU appears to be positioned for success in the coming years, and DiMatteo has the chance to be right in the middle of it.

“There is more to come from him, for sure,” Wright said, “and we hope this little taste of success he has had drives him to work harder. A lot of it is dependent on him. He needs to continue to give us what he has given us so far.”

Chuck Curti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at ccurti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CCurti_Trib.

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