MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The seventh-ranked West Virginia women’s soccer team begins NCAA Championship play with a first round match against Morehead State on Friday, Nov. 12, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Mountaineers are serving as one of 16 host schools for the first and second rounds of the national tournament. Friday’s first round match begins with Penn and Penn State at 3:30 p.m. Friday’s winners advance to the second round for a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday, Nov. 14.
“We had Monday to celebrate the BIG EAST Championship with our family and friends,” says coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “Now, our focus is strictly on the NCAA tournament and it starts with Morehead State.”
Junior Meghan Lewis scored the game-winning goal to lead West Virginia to the 2010 BIG EAST Championship, its second in four years. WVU earned one of 30 automatic bids to the NCAA tournament by virtue of its conference title.
West Virginia has made 11 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament – the nation’s ninth longest streak. The Mountaineers have advanced to the NCAA Round of 32 in seven of 10 seasons. WVU’s deepest run in the NCAA tournament was in 2007, reaching the Elite Eight.
WVU earned a No. 3 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, marking the fourth time it has been seeded (2002, 2003, 2007, 2010). West Virginia has played host to NCAA matches in five different seasons (2001-03, 2007, 2010).
“It’s always nice when you don’t have to travel and you have that familiarity of the stadium you’re playing in,” says Izzo-Brown. “There is a routine of a home game that our players like to go through. And we get to play in front of our fans one more time, which is always nice for them and for us.”
This is Morehead State’s second trip to the NCAA tournament in the last three years. West Virginia and Morehead State have never met. WVU is 1-0 all-time against current members of the Ohio Valley Conference, a 1-0 win over Jacksonville State in 2002.
Warren Lipka is in his second season as the coach of the Eagles, who boast a record of 13-6-1 overall, 7-0-1 in Ohio Valley play. Morehead State has won seven straight matches and is unbeaten in its last 11 contests.
MSU is one of five teams in the NCAA tournament to win its regular season and tournament championship. The postseason title gave Morehead one of 30 automatic berths to the NCAAs.
Three Eagle players were named to the OVC all-tournament team: Brittany Kiracofe, Lily Meisner and Giuleana Lopez (MVP). The Eagles’ offense has scored at least one goal in 17 of 20 matches this season. Forward Erin Adams leads MSU in scoring with 12 goals and two assists for 26 points.
“They have a couple of dynamic forwards in Lopez and Adams,” says Izzo-Brown. “Lopez can be dangerous in the box and somebody we’ll have to pay close attention to. From everything we’ve heard, they are a physical and hard-working team.”
Morehead State’s defense has recorded seven shutouts on the season, six in OVC matches. Goalkeeper Lily Meisner has logged 1,790 minutes between the posts, making 60 saves with a goals-against average of 1.31.
Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 18 and younger) and senior citizens. Admission is free for West Virginia University students with a valid student ID, and the first 50 WVU students will be given a lower level wristband if they plan to attend the basketball games.
Fans can follow live in-game statistics and play-by-play online through GameTracker on MSNsportsNET.com and a free WebStream also will be available for first and second round matches.