TAMPA – A late goal in regulation from Drea Barklage and penalty kick from Blake Miller in double overtime rallied visiting West Virginia past USF, 2-1, to open BIG EAST Conference play Thursday evening at USF Soccer Stadium.
Trailing 1-0, the Mountaineers tied the match in the 87th minute off the foot of Barklage. Bry McCarthy served a corner kick to the back post that was settled by Barklage in traffic and quickly blasted into the back of the net to make it a 1-1 game.
“Big players do big things in big moments,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “We were knocking and knocking on the door. Drea stepped up and put one in the back of the net to keep it going.”
In the second overtime, West Virginia earned a free kick in front of its bench, leading to a scoring chance and take down in the box. Mallory Smith drove a ball into the middle that was flicked on by Miller to a sprinting Frances Silva. Silva dribbled inside the box and was pulled down on a scoring try to earn a penalty kick. Miller calmly converted the kick at 104:03 for the game-winner.
“It was a battle tonight, and I’m proud of the way the girls came from behind to pull out a result,” said Izzo-Brown. “Our passing and finishing in the final third of the field just wasn’t there in the first half. We were able to do that in the second half and put pressure on them, and it paid off.”
After a scoreless first half, USF took advantage of a defensive miscue, leading to a one-on-one opportunity for forward Chelsea Klotz. Midfielder Anne Vikre intercepted a soft pass and slotted a ball up the middle to Klotz who beat goalkeeper Sara Keane on the ground in the 61st minute for a 1-0 lead.
“Klotz is a big-time player,” said Izzo-Brown. “She caught us and finished a one-on-one scoring chance.”
West Virginia had an apparent equalizer with 12 minutes to play as defender Erica Henderson flicked in a Silva shot off WVU’s sixth corner kick. The goal was waived off by the linesman for an offsides call to keep the score at 1-0.
WVU (5-3-0, 1-0-0) recorded a season-high 11 corner kicks while USF (4-3-1, 0-1-0) was held without one. The Bulls were credited with an 18-10 shot advantage, although only five were on-goal.
The Bulls were nearly doubled their lead in the 65th minute on a header by Sarah Miller. Miller was left unmarked on a cross at the back post as her shot went high of the goal from 12 yards out.
Moments later, WVU responded with some pressure in its offensive third of the field, taking three consecutive corner kicks. The last attempt resulted in USF goalkeeper Nicole McClure making a scooping save on a Barklage header towards the left post.
WVU midfielder Bri Rodriguez had a scoring chance in the 83rd minute, taking a pass from forward Emily Dillon on the right side. Rodriguez lined a shot at McClure who stood tall to deny the shot from 15 yards out.
USF forward Taylor Patterson created the only scoring chance of a mundane first half of play. Patterson split a pair of defenders off a throw-in in the 20th minute, taking the ball towards the goal and sending a line drive at the far post. Keane came up with a big stop, one of four saves on the night.
The Mountaineers improve to 6-1-1 all-time against USF.
Miller’s goal was her team-leading third of the season and 26th of her career. WVU moves to 21-2-1 all-time when Miller scores a goal.
West Virginia returns to action with a home match against No. 8 Marquette on Sunday, Sept. 18, on Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Fans are encouraged to wear pink as the Mountaineers make a check presentation for the money raised this past spring for the Betty Puskar Breast Cancer Fund at the Mary Randolph Cancer Center.