BIG EAST Semifinal Awaits

  • By Tim Goodenow
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  • November 04, 2010 10:01 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 16 West Virginia women’s soccer team continues its quest for a BIG EAST Championship with a semifinal match against Connecticut on Friday, Nov. 5, in Piscataway, N.J. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. at Rutgers’ Yurcak Field and will be televised live on the CBS College Sports Network (CBS C).

The Mountaineers are making their sixth straight conference semifinal appearance, ninth overall. West Virginia is 3-3-2 all-time in BIG EAST semifinal matches and only 1-3-1 all-time against Connecticut in five BIG EAST postseason meetings.

Friday’s contest is a rematch of only two weeks ago where WVU posted a 3-0 victory in Morgantown on Oct. 22. Twelve of the 16 meetings in the series, however, have been decided by one goal or less.

“Both teams will have a feel for each other (early on in the match),” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “They are a very tough team and we knew that going in a few weeks ago.

“On that particular day, we were able to finish some chances and they did not. We’re hoping for a similar result on Friday.”

The Mountaineers are riding a 10-match win streak, the nation’s eighth longest streak. WVU is coming off a 1-0 shutout over visiting Rutgers in a BIG EAST quarterfinal match on Oct. 31. Junior forward Blake Miller scored her team-leading 10th goal of the season in WVU’s school record 10th straight victory.

“We’ve been in just about every different situation to finish a game this season,” said Izzo-Brown. “Hopefully, that experience will help the team in staying focused for a full 90, 100 or 110 minutes. If we play West Virginia women’s soccer, we have a good chance at extending our season another game.”

Connecticut is led by veteran coach Len Tsantiris, now in his 30th season. The Huskies are coming off a 2-0 upset over top-seed Notre Dame in the BIG EAST quarterfinals, snapping ND’s 77-match unbeaten streak (72-0-5) against conference opponents.

The trio of Angelika Johansson (7G, 1A), Jessica Shufelt (6G, 3A) and Elise Fugowski (5G, 4A) combine to have scored 18 of Connecticut’s 33 goals this season. Goalkeeper Jessica Dulski has started all 21 matches, making 78 saves on the year. She has allowed 21 goals in more than 1,923 minutes between the posts.

“UConn is a very dynamic team,” said Izzo-Brown. “They played well in knocking out Notre Dame at home, and they will be looking to carry that momentum into the weekend.”

West Virginia is 11-8-4 all-time in BIG EAST Championship matches and 2-1-1 in tournament matches in Piscataway, N.J.

Tomorrow’s second semifinal features American Division No. 1 seed Marquette, ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation, versus No. 4 seed USF. The final four features teams all from the conference’s American Division – a BIG EAST tournament first.

All three weekend games will be televised on CBS C, while the title game also will be seen on numerous regional sports networks. The title game also will be streamed live online for free at BIGEAST.TV. Tammy Blackburn (color) and Jason Knapp (play-by-play) will call all the action for the telecasts.

Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 12 and younger) and senior citizens. Admission is free for children age two and younger, and for students from BIG EAST institutions with a valid student ID.