MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – An overtime goal from Bri Rodriguez and standout play from goalkeeper Sara Keane pushed the No. 23-ranked West Virginia women’s soccer team past visiting Rutgers, 1-0, Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 1,375 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
After generating 19 shots in 90 minutes of scoreless soccer, Rodriguez made good on WVU’s 20th attempt, chipping Scarlet Knight goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins from 25 yards out for the game-winning goal. The junior midfielder saw Simpkins playing off her line and lofted a ball from well outside the top of the box that dropped just beneath the crossbar.
“I knew I got ahold of it, I just didn’t know if the goalie was out far enough where she could get back in,” said Rodriguez, who has scored a point in each of the last three matches. “As soon as I saw it go into the back of the net, I got really excited.”
“I’ve said it before but big players do big things in big moments,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “And Bri found a way to win it for us today. I’m really proud of her.”
The Mountaineers improve to 8-3-0 overall, 4-0-0 in BIG EAST play. WVU has won six straight matches, while extending its conference win streak to 13 matches.
The Scarlet Knights fall to 6-4-1 overall, 1-2-1 in league play.
“You have to win at home because BIG EAST soccer is one of the best conferences in the country,” said Izzo-Brown, whose team is 6-1 at home this season. “There are no days off. We know we need to be special at home and we did that this weekend in front of two great crowds.”
WVU received outstanding performances from Keane and junior defender Bry McCarthy. Keane made three highlight-reel saves and McCarthy worked herself into the attack on numerous occasions to generate some offense.
“Keane was awesome today,” said Rodriguez. “We needed to score a goal for her. She was doing her job and we had to find a way to win it.”
Despite defending the Mountaineers for the majority of the first half in WVU's offensive third, Rutgers became dangerous on a pair of scoring opportunities in transition.
RU’s Maria Gerew had a one-on-one try from 14 yards out that was denied by Keane. She followed with a second attempt off the rebound, rifling a ball off the right post for the game’s first two shots.
Keane, a Mt. Laurel, N.J., native, made two more diving saves, stopping shots from Stefanee Pace in the 24th minute and Kristen Siano in the 38th minute. Siano’s long attempt was snagged out of the air on a full-extension save by Keane.
The Mountaineers generated plenty of first-half offense, taking 10 shots, including five from senior forward Blake Miller.
WVU’s best scoring chance came off the foot of sophomore forward Emily Dillon. McCarthy pushed the ball up the left side of the field and served a ball to the back post where Dillon quickly settled it and fired a shot that went inches wide of the right post.
Miller and the offense continued to pressure the Rutgers defense, including a scoring try in the 69th minute. Senior Morgan Betscher played a corner kick into the heart of the box that was knocked down by Simpkins. Miller slotted a ball towards the near post that was cleared off the line by a Scarlet Knight defender.
Dillon and Miller worked a nice give-and-go up the left side in the 78th minute. Miller played a ball into the middle of the box where Dillon’s shot to the right side was pulled out of the air by Simpkins.
The Mountaineer defense picked up its sixth shutout of the season, and second clean sheet in conference play.
West Virginia finished with a 20-9 shot advantage, including an 8-3 edge in shots on-goal. WVU also held the upper hand in corner kicks (11-3), while RU was called for 16 of the 22 fouls.
Miller and Rodriguez combined for 11 shots to pace WVU. Rutgers’ Gerew and forward Stefanie Scholz each attempted three shots.
The Mountaineers return to action next weekend with a pair of BIG EAST road matches at Georgetown and Villanova.