MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A pair of second half goals propelled the No. 23 West Virginia women’s soccer team past visiting Providence, 2-1, Sunday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The Mountaineers received goals from defender Drea Barklage and forward Frances Silva to finish the regular season with a 13-4-1 record, including a 9-1-1 mark in BIG EAST play.
After a scoreless first half, WVU opened the scoring with a goal at the 53:06 mark off a set piece. Silva cut a defender and worked the ball towards the end line, drawing a corner kick opportunity that led to Barklage’s fourth goal of the season. Defender Bry McCarthy served a ball into the box where Barklage lined the ball into the right side of the goal for the 1-0 lead.
“I’m not sure I had to do very much,” said Barklage. “I was left unmarked and Bry just put it right on my head, and it went in.”
Six minutes later, the Mountaineers went up 2-0 on Silva’s third goal of the season. Midfielder Bri Rodriguez settled a high pass on the left sideline, quickly serving a ball over the defense and into the middle of the field. Silva, who slipped behind the back line, took one touch and beat goalkeeper Caitlin Walker on the ground with a shot inside the right post.
“Frances is such a technical player and took a great touch to set up her goal,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “She had a great finish to put us up 2-0. That’s a lot of pressure for a freshman but she came up with a big-time finish.”
Today’s win ties the school record for consecutive wins at nine, joining the 2002 and 2003 Mountaineer teams.
“After the South Florida game, we came together and said it’s now or never,” said Barklage. “We had given away a few games but this streak has brought out the true character of our team. It wasn’t our best game today but we are excited to get the result on senior day.”
The Mountaineers struggled to find any rhythm until midway through the first half of play. WVU picked up the pace after Silva was pulled down by a PC defender from 22 yards out to eliminate a breakaway. McCarthy took the ensuing free kick, blasting a shot towards the left side of the goal, forcing Walker to make her first of seven saves on the afternoon.
“This was a good Providence team and they had a lot to play for, trying to get into the BIG EAST tournament,” said Izzo-Brown. “They are a physical team and tried to disrupt our play a little bit.
“And we are coming off a big win over Connecticut on Friday. So, it took a little longer than I hoped to get into our rhythm of play.”
In the 34th minute, forward Blake Miller volleyed a ball over a defender, blasting a one-timer out of the air, forcing Walker to her right to make a difficult save.
The Mountaineer defense gave up a goal in the 77th minute after a foul was committed on a 50-50 ball from the top of the box. Providence midfielder Kate Delciampo took the kick, striking the crossbar as teammate Jenna Roncarati was there for the rebound effort to make it 2-1.
The goal was only the 15th allowed by West Virginia all season. WVU goalkeeper Kerri Butler made one save in her 45th career victory.
Miller attempted a game-best five shots while McCarthy took four shots to go with her fifth assist of the season.
Silva now has two goals and two assists in her last four matches and Rodriguez has tallied at least one point in seven of WVU's 11 conference matches.
West Virginia finished with a 15-10 shot advantage and held an 8-4 corner kick edge. The Friars were whistled for a season-high 23 fouls and WVU was called for 14.
Providence drops to 9-7-2 overall, its best record since 1993, and 3-6-2 in conference matches.
Six Mountaineer seniors were recognized prior to the match – Butler, Cassandra Deitrick, Kristen Felice, Ashtin Larkin, Megan Mischler and Sydney Metheny. Together, they have combined for 261 matches played while amassing a five-year record of 69-23-18 under Izzo-Brown.
“It wasn’t a great game but we came in and got the result we wanted,” said Izzo-Brown. “This team wanted to win it for our senior class, just an outstanding group of women. They work hard, do things right on and off the field, and have been fine representatives to West Virginia University.”
West Virginia has earned a first round bye as the No. 2 seed in the American Division and will face Rutgers, the No. 3 seed in the National Division, on Sunday, Oct. 31 in Morgantown. Rutgers improved its seeding with a win today over Louisville and a loss by DePaul.
An official announcement with a complete 10-team BIG EAST Championship bracket will be announced by conference officials later this evening.
The Mountaineers have now qualified for the BIG EAST tournament in 11 straight years, only Connecticut and Rutgers have equaled the feat. West Virginia has advanced to the semifinal round in five consecutive seasons.