MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A season-high five goals, including three from Mountaineer seniors, guided the No. 22 West Virginia women’s soccer team past visiting Syracuse, 5-1, Sunday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
The win kept the Mountaineers in first place of the BIG EAST American Division with a conference record of 7-1-0 (11-4-0 overall). The victory also came on Senior Day for six student-athletes: Drea Barklage, Morgan Betscher, Chelsey Corroto, Erica Henderson, Meghan Lewis and Blake Miller. The group has amassed a four-year record of 53-19-13 under coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.
“I am very happy for our seniors who have worked so hard and represented this program in a first-class manner,” said Izzo-Brown. “The team came out focused and played well. And it came against a Syracuse team that had been on a roll and had some success on the road.”
Syracuse had its four-match win streak snapped and moves to third place in the American Division with a 5-3-0 BIG EAST record (6-5-3 overall).
WVU took a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute on forward Miller’s team-leading sixth goal of the season. Bri Rodriguez earned the Mountaineers a free kick after being chopped down at the top of the box. Bry McCarthy found Miller on the left side who slotted a ball past Orange goalkeeper Brittany Anghel for a 1-0 lead.
Miller’s score marked the 29th of her career, moving her into a tie for sixth place all-time on the career goals list. More impressive, West Virginia is 24-2-1 all-time when Miller scores a goal.
Betscher made it a 2-0 match in the 34th minute, scoring on a pass from Caroline Szwed – the first of two assists for Szwed on the day. The senior midfielder sent a high floater from 35 yards out that tucked underneath the crossbar at the back post. Betscher’s goal was her first since recording the game-winner against USF as a freshman in 2008.
Szwed recorded the first multi-assist match of her career this afternoon and has tallied an assist in each of the last three meetings against Syracuse.
West Virginia kept Syracuse off the board shortly before halftime on a kick save from goalkeeper Sara Keane. SU’s Jenna Rickan took a shot from 15 yards out that was deflected wide on Keane’s third save of the match.
In the 32nd minute, WVU’s McCarthy came up with a team save to keep the Mountaineers on top. Syracuse midfielder Tina Romagnuolo turned on a loose ball in the box where McCarthy cleared her shot at the goal line to deny the scoring attempt.
Lewis extended WVU’s lead to 3-0 on a header in the 48th minute. The senior defender created the scoring chance by taking a shot from the top of the box that was deflected out of bounds. Miller stepped in front of an SU defender on the ensuing corner kick, took the ball to the end line and found a crashing Lewis in the middle of the box for her second goal of the season.
“It was very exciting and when Szwed came to hug me, it was instant tears,” said Lewis, who also scored on a header in WVU’s 2009 Senior Day victory over St. John’s. “There was a lot of emotion out there and everyone played so hard for us. I am just really happy right now for our team.”
WVU made it a 4-0 match in the 57th minute on a perfect pass from forward Frances Silva. Silva beat a defender in the right corner and sent a ball to the back post where forward Kate Schwindel out-jumped the Syracuse defender to head the ball past Anghel.
Silva went to work on the receiving end to give the Mountaineers a 5-0 lead in the 63rd minute. Silva snuck a shot past Anghel from the mouth of the box for her second career one-goal, one-assist match.
Forward Katie Lenz nearly added a sixth goal on a shot off the left post with 17 minutes remaining after getting around an SU defender on the left side of the field.
Syracuse managed only two shots in the second half, including its lone score off the foot of Rickan. Rickan sent a shot around the Mountaineer defensive wall and into the back of the net following a foul at the top of the box.
Keane finished with two saves and Lenz attempted a game-high four shots to lead West Virginia.
Anghel totaled six saves and Romagnuolo paced the Orange with three shots.
West Virginia is now 66-11-8 at home since Dick Dlesk opened in 2004. WVU also boasts a 34-2-2 record in BIG EAST regular season home matches since 2005.
The Mountaineers, winners of nine of their last 10 matches, close out the regular season with three BIG EAST road matches, beginning with a trip to Providence on Friday, Oct. 14.