PITTSBURGH – A shutout victory in the regular season finale guided No. 17 West Virginia past BIG EAST rival Pitt, 1-0, Friday evening at Ambrose Urbanic Field in Pittsburgh.
With the win, the Mountaineers earned their fifth division title, earning the No. 1 seed in the American Division for next week’s conference championship.
“(Kate) Schwindel scored a world-class goal and the team played great in the second half,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “I’m very proud of this team and they are very deserving of this division championship.”
After a sluggish first half, Schwindel put the Mountaineers up 1-0 in the 50th minute on a blast into the upper left corner. Forward Blake Miller played a ball out wide to Schwindel, who turned on a defender and drilled an upper 90 shot from 25 yards out.
Schwindel continues to impress in her first season as a Mountaineer, scoring at least one point in seven of the last nine matches. The Livingston, N.J., native has totaled five goals and five assists in league play which leads all BIG EAST rookies in points with 15.
Miller’s assist was the fifth of the season for the senior.
WVU goalkeeper Sara Keane was outstanding in picking up the team’s ninth shutout of the season. The redshirt freshman was excellent off her line and made a career-high eight saves.
Pitt held a 7-6 edge in shots after 45 minutes, however, all seven attempts came from outside the box. The Mountaineers finished with an 18-16 shot advantage, led by Schwindel’s game-best six shots and Miller’s five attempts.
Forward Frances Silva had the first scoring chance of the match on a long ball over top the Panther defense in the sixth minute. Silva fired a shot from 16 yards out with goalkeeper Kristina Rioux making the stop.
Pitt’s best scoring opportunity came in the 53rd minute when Keane backpedaled and leaped high in the air to tip over of a long-distance shot by Katie Ruhe that was headed for the back of the net.
Keane came up huge in the 65th minute with back-to-back saves, starting with a shot from Pitt’s Alyssa Meier that was deflected over the goal off Pitt’s fourth corner kick. Moments later, Hayley Neal slotted a ball through traffic and towards the back post with Keane extending to her left to make a diving stop.
Miller nearly doubled the Mountaineers’ lead in the 70th minute by cutting a defender in the middle of the field and sending a ball just wide of the left post.
The Mountaineers, winners of 12 of their last 13 matches, attempted eight corner kicks, while Pitt earned five corner tries.
West Virginia closes the regular season with a 14-4-0 record, including a 10-1-0 mark in BIG EAST play. The 10 conference wins are a program-best, making WVU one of only four BIG EAST schools to ever win 10 league contests in a season.
Pitt ends its season at 2-13-4 overall, 1-8-2 in the BIG EAST.
An official announcement with a complete 10-team BIG EAST Championship bracket will be announced by conference officials tomorrow evening at the conclusion of the regular season.
The Mountaineers have now qualified for the BIG EAST tournament in 12 straight years.