WVU Stuns No. 9 Rutgers
By Tim Goodenow for MSNsportsNET.com
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - Freshman Caralee Keppler netted her first collegiate goal in helping the West Virginia women’s soccer team stun ninth-ranked Rutgers, 1-0, Sunday afternoon at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. The win sends WVU to its eighth BIG EAST Championship semifinal.
The Mountaineers dominated possession throughout the match and their offensive pressure paid off in the 86th minute. Forward Blake Miller beat one Rutgers defender and cut another inside the 18-yard box, finding Keppler open on the left side. Keppler took one touch and slotted the ball past All-American goalkeeper Erin Guthrie from six-yards out for the game-winner.
“We completed a full game today and played with intensity for a full 90 minutes,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, whose team awaits Marquette in Friday’s semifinal match. “Defensively, we gave them nothing. Offensively, we were a threat. I’m proud of the way we battled out there.”
Keppler, who has seen action in just one match since Sept. 13 because of injuries, came through when called upon, logging 15 minutes on the afternoon.
“I’m speechless right now,” said Keppler. “I’m happy Izzo had faith in me to come in and make a spark offensively. She put me in with 20 minutes left and told me to be confident in myself. Fortunately, I was able to put an important one away.”
“It was an awesome finish by Keppler,” said Izzo-Brown. “We had some good chances and she was the one who came away with the goal.”
West Virginia finished with an 11-3 shot advantage, including an 8-2 edge in shots on-goal. Miller attempted a game-high three shots on the afternoon.
The Mountaineer defense was outstanding, limiting Rutgers to one shot in the first 54 minutes of the contest. The Scarlet Knights finished with a season-low three shots on the day. The shutout was the seventh in the last eight matches for WVU.
Rutgers forced a corner kick with 90 seconds to play as All-American midfielder Carolyn Blank leaped high in the box and cleared the ball to eliminate any scoring chance.
Blank, the reigning BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year, played in her 89th career match, tying former All-American Amanda Cicchini in the record book for first all-time in career matches played. Blank, along with freshmen Bri Rodriguez and Caroline Szwed were outstanding in linking the back line with the front line on Sunday.
The Mountaineers had a fine scoring chance off a corner kick in the 60th minute. Rodriguez sent a ball into the box with Guthrie coming off her line. Forward Chelsey Corroto took the deflection and lined a hard shot at the mouth of the goal where Scarlet Knight midfielder Ashley Medcalf cleared the shot away with a header to prevent the score.
WVU had five first-half shots including a near goal in the 34th minute on a shot from Szwed. Rodriguez chased down a ball in the left corner and cut a Rutgers defender on the end line, serving the ball in front of the near post where Szwed’s one-timer was denied on a one-handed scoop save by Guthrie.
Sophomore Morgan Betscher earned her first start of the season, becoming the 10th freshman or sophomore to start a match this season for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia improves to 9-5-6 one the season while Rutgers goes to 13-3-4.
The BIG EAST Championship is set for Nov. 6 and 8 at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium on the campus of Connecticut. The semifinals will be televised live on CBS College Sports at 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 6, with the title game set for noon ET on Nov. 8. The championship match also will be shown locally on numerous regional sports networks.
The Mountaineers battle Marquette, the American Division top seed, on Friday at 5 p.m., while National Division top seed Notre Dame takes on St. John’s in game two Friday.