MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Trailing 3-1 in the second half, the West Virginia women’s soccer team stormed back to defeat Villanova, 4-3 in overtime, Friday evening at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. Sophomore Bri Rodriguez scored the game-winner in the 95th minute to end a wild shootout on a chilly night.
The Wildcats built a 3-1 lead on efficient shooting before defender Erica Henderson tied the match at 3-3 in the 66th minute on a rebound blast from six yards out following a Bry McCarthy shot that was saved and deflected back into play.
Forward Blake Miller started the game-winning play by juking past a VU defender and taking the ball towards the end line and sending a ball into the middle. Nova goalkeeper Jami Kranich came off her line and deflected the ball down as Rodriguez was there to send it into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season.
“Blake made a brilliant move and took the ball to the end line,” said Rodriguez. “She slotted it back into the middle where the goalie got a hand on it, but I was there to clean it up.”
West Virginia struggled to find any rhythm in the opening 45 minutes before finally catching fire in the second half. WVU held a 20-5 shot advantage at the end of regulation and carried that momentum into overtime.
The Mountaineers also received goals from Drea Barklage (34:01), Miller (53:30) and Henderson (65:35).
“The team out there in the first half was not the team I have coached all season long,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown of the slow start. “You have to give Villanova credit though as they finished the scoring chances they had.”
“We finally picked it up after halftime and I’m proud of the way they responded. We kept battling and found a way to win. In the end, we got the result we wanted.”
Miller attempted a career-high eight shots to lead WVU’s offensive attack. Her goal came from 16 yards out by slotting a ball on the ground, inside the left post for her sixth goal of the season.
Villanova forward Katie Ryan took two of Nova’s six shots. Scoring goals for the Wildcats were Colleen Lineweaver (2:35), Channing Press (32:50) and Justine Wollner (50:31).
Lineweaver put Nova on the board early, finishing a goal in the third minute on a through ball from the right flank by teammate Heidi Sabatura.
Press connected on her first goal of the season to put Villanova up 2-0 in the 33rd minute after a Mountaineer defender lost her footing and fell down on in the box. Press settled the pass and sent the ball towards the upper left corner for the score.
“We had some breakdowns and left (goalkeeper) Kerri (Butler) out to dry for the most part,” said Izzo-Brown. “It was important though to get that goal from Drea to keep it a one-score game heading into halftime.”
The Mountaineers responded moments later on Barklage’s third goal of the season to cut the lead in half at 2-1. McCarthy served a ball into the middle of the box where Barklage headed the ball down and across the goal line.
Wollner rounded out the Wildcats scoring on a one-timer in front of the net on a pass from Ryan in the right corner.
West Virginia extends its unbeaten streak to seven matches to build a 10-4-1 record, 6-1-1 in BIG EAST play. Izzo-Brown has secured at least 10 wins in each of the past 11 seasons.
A banged up Wildcats team falls to 6-10-0 on the season, 1-7-0 in league action.
The win marked the first time the Mountaineers have won a game when allowing two or more goals since Oct. 19, 2007, in a 5-3 victory at Georgetown.
WVU returns to action on Sunday against Georgetown in a 1 p.m. conference tilt. The match has been designated Breast Cancer Awareness Day with fans encouraged to wear pink. The WVU coaching staff will also make a check presentation at halftime to the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center.
A free WVU student shuttle bus service will be available for Sunday’s match from the Mountainlair & the Brooke/Braxton Towers loop from Noon to 1 p.m. Return service to the Mountainlair & the Brooke/Braxton Towers will also be available at the conclusion of the match.