MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Goals – they’re all junior Cari Price
thinks of these days.
A midfielder with the No. 13-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team, she is constantly thinking of ways the Mountaineers (2-2) can finish more scoring chances and stop opposing teams from taking advantage of their few opportunities.
“We’re just trying to keep our momentum up and score a lot of goals,” the Sykesville, Maryland, native said. “We had a lot of opportunities last game (vs. Elon) we didn’t finish, so hopefully our next game we can finish more.
“We’ve also given up a lot of goals in our first four games, and they’ve all been preventable.”
Price found her scoring touch in 2013, tallying four goals and four assists for 12 points, the squad’s fourth-best total. She earned her first point of this season against the Phoenix, assisting on senior forward Kate Schwindel
’s second-half goal.
Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown likes what she’s seen out of Price through the first four matches, especially the physical presence she brings to the field each day.
“Any time you have an athlete that has the ability to do what Cari has the ability to do for us with her strength is a solid plus for a team,” she said of the 5-foot-9 Price. “We look to Cari to help us with scoring, too. As a midfielder, we want her to possess the ball and make sure she can open the field up for us offensively. We also want her to cover ground for us defensively and limit opponents’ scoring opportunities.”
Price believes the Mountaineers are going to continue to improve on both sides of the ball as the season progresses.
“Each game, our experience in the game and watching film after the game gets us through because we’re able to see the mistakes we’re making,” she said. “We can see how well we’re working together by watching the film.”
“We have to make sure we have composure and confidence moving forward,” Izzo-Brown echoed. “It’s key for Cari to give us good scoring chances with her vision and passes.”
The Mountaineers continue to hold one top-15 ranking this week, as the team checks in at No. 13 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Poll. The squad also ranks No. 21 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire Poll.
For the first time this season, three Big 12 Conference teams rank in the NSCAA Poll, and three additional teams are receiving votes. Only the Mountaineers and Texas Tech earned spots in the final NSCAA Poll of 2013.
Coach Izzo-Brown believes this week’s poll is indicative of the Big 12’s strength in 2014.
“These conference games, on any given day, can go to any team,” she said. “The Big 12 is going to be tough to navigate this season. We’re only focused on the next game before us, but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen from Big 12 teams so far this season.”
Despite tallying 45 shots last weekend against No. 21 Duke and Elon, the Mountaineers managed only two goals, a fact not lost on Izzo-Brown.
“I think we just need to convert more of the goals we feel we should be converting,” the 19-year coach explained. “You aren’t going to finish every corner kick, and we know that, but are we contesting every corner kick? I think we need to balance what is realistic and what is not realistic. If you are missing an open goal, that has to be finished. If you are striking a ball without purpose and don’t finish, that’s a problem. Those are the things we are focusing on right now.”
Izzo-Brown knows the Mountaineers are pushing on the scoring flood gates and believes forwards Kailey Utley
and Ashley Lawrence
are due scores. The duo combined for six shots on-goal last weekend.
Mountaineer Nation came out in full force for WVU’s battle with No. 21 Duke on Aug. 29, as the announced attendance was 2,045, the program’s third-highest attendance mark at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
A program-best 3,000 fans were in attendance for WVU’s NCAA Tournament quarterfinal match against No. 8 USC on Nov. 30, 2007, while 2,057 saw WVU face No. 6 Penn State on Aug. 31, 2012.
A season-best 1,610 fans were in attendance for WVU’s NCAA Tournament match against Rutgers on Nov. 16, 2013, the sixth-best mark in program history.
If you’re keeping track at home, WVU is now represented on the two most-illustrious preseason watch lists in NCAA women’s soccer.
Senior forward Kate Schwindel
was named a 2014 Senior CLASS Award candidate yesterday, giving the Mountaineers candidates in consecutive seasons. Schwindel is the Big 12’s lone representative.
In August, sophomore defender Kadeisha Buchanan
was named the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Watch List, college soccer’s version of the Heisman Trophy.
Both lists will be cut down mid-season, with winners announced in December and January, respectively.
The Mountaineers continue their eight-match homestand this weekend and play host to the WVU 90 Minute Classic on Sept. 5 and Sept. 7 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. WVU meets Hofstra at 7 p.m. on Friday, and UNC Greensboro at 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $5 for adults, and just $3 for youth and seniors. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets for $2 each.
Sunday is “Youth Soccer Day,” and all area soccer teams are invited to DDSS to celebrate U.S. youth soccer month. Kids under 13, who bring a completed Musket Coloring Sheet to the stadium gate, will receive one free youth admission and will be entered into a drawing to win a plush Musket toy. The coloring sheet can be found HERE
. Additionally, fans will be able to take their picture with the 2013 Big 12 Conference regular-season and tournament trophies.