PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Defender Meghan Lewis’ game-winner in the 82nd minute gave 16th-ranked West Virginia a 1-0 victory over USF Sunday afternoon Yurcak Field in Piscataway, N.J. The victory gave the women’s soccer program its second BIG EAST Championship and its first since 2007.
“I’m so proud of this team for believing in themselves and fulfilling their goal of winning a BIG EAST Championship,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “Both teams battled and we found a way to put one in the back of the net.”
The Mountaineer goal started with forward Frances Silva creating a corner kick opportunity on the right corner of the field. Defender Bry McCarthy served a ball inside the box where USF goalkeeper Nicole McClure punched the ball out. Forward Blake Miller headed the ball out of the air to the feet of Lewis, who turned and fired a shot into the right side of the goal.
“What a brilliant finish by Lewis,” said Izzo-Brown. “We battled the whole game and our hard work paid off with a goal off a set piece.”
“Blake played a perfect ball on the ground and I turned and hit it,” said Lewis of the game-winner. “I was at the right place, at the right time.”
Lewis’ second goal of the season helped her earn the tournament’s Most Outstanding Offensive Player. Miller’s assist was her team-leading seventh of the year and third in the last two matches.
“I’m a little speechless right now,” said Lewis. “I was told by (former WVU All-American) Carolyn Blank how special this moment is and I truly do find it hard to put into words. I’m just so happy for this team, especially our seniors.”
The Mountaineers received another strong outing from its defense, posting their third straight shutout in the tournament. WVU’s defense has allowed only one goal in its last 583 minutes of play.
Goalkeeper Kerri Butler was excellent in net, making three saves and coming off her line on several occasions to eliminate a handful of scoring chances. The senior was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player.
Both teams utilized the wind to put together a more offensive attack. West Virginia held a 5-1 shot advantage after 45 minutes of play. The one USF shot marked a season-low in first half shots by WVU opponents.
With six minutes remaining in the half, defender Drea Barklage sent a header over the goal on WVU’s second corner kick of the match.
Midfielder Ashtin Larkin came up with a huge defensive play in the 55th minute with USF taking the ball up field in transition. Bulls forward Chelsea Klotz raced down the middle as Larkin retreated until stepping up and taking the ball away to eliminate the breakaway.
The Bulls had a solid scoring opportunity in the 65th minute on a shot from Klotz. She blasted a shot wide of the goal following an errant clearance by the WVU defense after a free kick into the box.
Butler kept the Bulls off the board in the 71st minute with a diving stop after USF’s first corner kick of the match.
USF’s best chance of the match came off a shot from midfielder Taylor Patterson, whose shot ricocheted off the right post at the 73:48 mark.
Forward Megan Mischler nearly put the Mountaineers on the board in the 75th minute on a perfect pass into the middle from Larkin. Mischler sent a shot towards the right post, forcing McClure to push the ball wide of the goal.
McClure finished with four saves for the Bulls.
WVU's 13th shutout of the season marked just the fourth time this year USF had been held scoreless.
West Virginia finished with a 13-9 shot advantage and 6-2 edge in corner kicks. Midfielder Bri Rodriguez attempted three shots to lead WVU while forward Chelsea Klotz led the Bulls with three attempts.
WVU becomes the inaugural winner of the Champions Cup, a new trophy for the women’s soccer championship team. The Mountaineers improve to 16-4-1 on the seasons while the Bulls drop to 13-5-3.
McCarthy, Miller and Mischler were also named to the all-tournament team.
WVU has been shutout just once in its last 11 BIG EAST tournament matches.
The victory extends WVU’s win streak to 12 matches, the sixth longest streak in the nation entering today’s match.
Women’s soccer becomes the first WVU program to win multiple BIG EAST tournament titles.
With its automatic berth, West Virginia now awaits its destination for the 64-team 2010 NCAA Championships, to be announced during the NCAA selection show Monday, Nov. 8, at 4:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The first four rounds of the tournament are played at campus sites, beginning with first and second round matches on Nov. 12/14.
All-Tournament Team Elise Fugowski, Connecticut Taylor Madigan, Marquette Rachel Brown, Marquette Angelique Waller, USF Venicia Reid, USF Chelsea Klotz, USF Blake Miller, West Virginia Megan Mischler, West Virginia Bry McCarthy, West Virginia Meghan Lewis, West Virginia Kerri Butler, West Virginia
Most Outstanding Defensive Player Kerri Butler, West Virginia
Most Outstanding Offensive Player Meghan Lewis, West Virginia