Women's Soccer Opens Season Friday

  • By Tim Goodenow
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  • August 16, 2012 03:11 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The 20th-ranked West Virginia women’s soccer team opens the 2012 season against La Salle on Friday, Aug. 17, in the first of two home matches this weekend at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The 2012 campaign marks the 17th season in program history – all under the direction of coach Nikki Izzo-Brown.

Tomorrow’s match with the Explorers will kickoff at 7 p.m., in one of three matches designated as “Dollar Days” with all tickets, hot dogs, popcorn and Coca-Colas available for purchase for just one dollar each. Fans also can pick up a free women’s soccer schedule poster featuring Nicolette DeLaurentis, Sara Keane, Kate Schwindel, Frances Silva and Mallory Smith.

The Mountaineers close out the weekend with a 1 p.m. match against Western Carolina on Sunday, Aug. 19.

“The ladies are excited to get the season underway,” says Izzo-Brown. “It’s always good to get preseason camp behind you and starting competing against people in another jersey.

“We were left with a bad taste in our mouth at the end of last year, and have worked extremely hard to put ourselves in a position to be successful again.”

West Virginia returns seven starters this season, led by senior captains Bry McCarthy, Bri Rodriguez and Smith. Only five Mountaineers on the roster, however, have played in more than 40 matches at WVU. Of the roster’s 28 players, 20 of them are either freshmen or sophomores.

“Our upperclassmen know what is expected of them,” says Izzo-Brown. “It’s the newcomers that need to remember to play within their role, work hard and just play West Virginia women’s soccer.”

West Virginia will square off against 10 new opponents this fall, including La Salle and Western Carolina. The last Atlantic 10 foe to come to Morgantown was Duquesne in 2009. The Catamounts will become WVU’s first Southern Conference opponent.

The Explorers are led by 10th-year coach Paul Royal, the 2011 A-10 Coach of the Year. La Salle finished unbeaten in league play (7-0-2) last fall, winning its first-ever Atlantic 10 regular season title. That team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where they fell at Maryland in first-round action.

“I have known Paul since he was at Villanova, and it’s impressive what he has accomplished at La Salle,” adds Izzo-Brown. “They don’t carry a BCS-type name but certainly field one of the better teams in the country. They have talent on their roster and players with NCAA experience. ”

The Explorers were picked third in the 2012 Atlantic 10 preseason poll behind Dayton and Richmond. La Salle returns a strong core of eight starters, including last year’s A-10 Rookie of the Year Kelsey Haycook and A-10 first-teamer Renee Washington. Earlier this week, Haycook and Washington were each named to the 2012 Hermann Trophy Watch List.

Chad Miller enters his third season at the helm of Western Carolina soccer. In 2011 under Miller, Kayla Beauduy earned all-conference honors and the team advanced to its first Southern Conference Tournament since 2008. The Catamounts were tabbed eighth in the SoCon preseason coaches’ poll, with Samford selected as the favorite.

WCU returns five seniors this season, led by forward Samantha Hodge and goalkeeper Katie Jacobs.

Fans unable to attend tomorrow’s match can follow the Mountaineers at home all season long via GameTracker and a free WebStream at WVUsports.com.