Women's Soccer: WVU Opens BIG EAST Season

  • By Tim Goodenow
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  • September 22, 2010 02:21 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia women’s soccer team opens BIG EAST Conference play at Marquette on Thursday, Sept. 23 in Milwaukee, Wis. Kickoff at Valley Fields is scheduled for 8 p.m. EST.

“Playing Marquette is a difficult task because they are such a physical and emotional team,” says coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “They are a team who has experienced tremendous success at home in the past. We know the emotion and energy awaiting us on Thursday night will create a tough environment to compete in.”

The Mountaineers are coming off an impressive 1-0 shutout over then fifth-ranked Virginia on Sept. 19 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The WVU defense held the Cavaliers scoreless for the first time this season and defender Mallory Smith netted the game-winner – and team-leading third goal of the season – in the 83rd minute.

Marquette is coming off a 2-1 win at USF in its BIG EAST opener last week. MU is led by 15th-year coach Markus Roeders and returns five starters and 23 letterwinners from last season. Roeders guided the Golden Eagles to a 15-5-3 record last season, advancing to the BIG EAST Championship finals and an appearance in the NCAA tournament.

The Golden Eagles are led offensively by forwards Ashley Bares, Lindsey Page and Rachel Sloan. Sloan, a first team all-BIG EAST selection last season, leads MU in scoring with three goals through nine contests in 2010.

Rosie Malone-Povolny and Lisa Philbin anchor a rotating midfield position. Povolny was an all-conference pick a year ago and Philbin returns after missing the 2009 season because of injury.

Defensively, Marquette is allowing less than one goal per game this season behind BIG EAST Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year Natalie Kulla. She played every minute of the 2009 season, recording a school record 16 shutouts, to earn second team all-BIG EAST honors.

The Mountaineers are 5-1 all-time against the Golden Eagles, including a 2-0 mark at Valley Fields. The two teams played twice last season, with Marquette winning the second meeting in the BIG EAST semifinals.

WVU is 7-6-1 all-time in BIG EAST openers since joining the league in 1996. The Mountaineers were scheduled to play Pitt to begin conference play but the contest was postponed due to lightning. That contest will be made up at a later date.

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