MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia women’s soccer team begins league play as members of the Big 12 Conference this weekend with a pair of home matches at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium. The Mountaineers will face Texas Tech on Friday, Sept. 21, at 7 p.m. in their first-ever Big 12 contest.
“We are excited to get out on the field and finally play this first Big 12 game,” says coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “We’ve talked a lot about the changing of conferences, but it’s finally here.
“We know there are plenty of challenges of entering a new conference. But on Friday, we are certainly excited to show our Big 12 friends what WVU women’s soccer is all about. I’m hoping a big crowd comes out once more to welcome Texas Tech to Morgantown.”
WVU closes the weekend against No. 7 ranked Oklahoma State, its third Top-10 opponent of the season, on Sunday, Sept. 23, at noon. The contest is also Breast Cancer Awareness Day as fans are encouraged to wear pink as the WVU coaching staff makes a check presentation for more than $12,000 to the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. The WVU women’s soccer team has raised more than $85,000 over the past nine years to help fight breast cancer.
“Wearing the pink jerseys and raising money and awareness for breast cancer, it’s a big focal point in our service efforts as a program,” explains Izzo-Brown. “It is something we’ve done for a long time. We all know someone who has been affected by this awful disease, and I’m very proud of the effort our ladies give in help fighting breast cancer.”
The Mountaineers are coming off their most productive statistical weekend, posting a pair of shutouts and outscoring opponents 11-0. Sophomore Kate Schwindel
, a preseason All-Big 12 selection, played a hand in five of WVU’s six goals against High Point with two goals and three assists. She leads the Big 12 in points with 18 behind a team-best seven goals and four assists.
Coach Tom Stone is in his sixth season at Texas Tech, looking to guide the Red Raiders to their first NCAA appearance. Eight starters return from a team that won 10 matches a year ago.
The Red Raiders are coming off two impressive wins on the West Coast, scoring a 3-2 double overtime win at No. 20 Long Beach State and a 2-1 win at Cal State Fullerton.
Attacking midfielder Janine Beckie is the reigning Big 12 Newcomer of the Week following her three-goal weekend. Beckie leads the Tech offense with six goals and two assists, and a team-best 48 shots.
Defensively, the Red Raiders are led by All-America defender Jaelene Hinkle and sophomore goalkeeper Victoria Esson. Tech’s defense, which allowed only 18 goals last year, has posted four shutouts in nine matches this season.
“The speed on their roster and the physical game they play reminds me of a team like Marquette,” says Izzo-Brown. “Tom has been in the soccer business a long time and will have them well organized.
“Each team in this league will present something new for us. We are treating each opponent like an NCAA tournament game in which we know a little, have respect for them, and stick to what we do best for a focused 90 minutes.”
Leading Oklahoma State is coach Colin Carmichael, the 2012 Big 12 Coach of the Year, now in his eighth season. OSU is coming off its finest season in school history, posting a 22-2-2 record with a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight for the second-straight year.
The Cowgirls, who won the 2011 Big 12 regular-season title, return six starters from last season. They carry a 9-1-0 record through 10 matches, with their only loss coming to Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma State’s resume speaks for itself,” says Izzo-Brown. “They are very talented and well-coached. It’s going to be a battle on Sunday.”
Prior to coming to Morgantown, OSU will travel to Kansas for a conference match on Sept. 21.
Leading the Cowgirls defense is two-time All-America goalkeeper AD Franch, a U.S. Youth National Team member. All-league performer Carson Michalowski returns to anchor the back line that posted an NCAA-best 18 shutouts in 2011.
Forward Megan Marchesano, an All-Big 12 pick last season, leads the offense with six goals and two assists. Oklahoma State has been kept off the scoreboard only once this season and just three times in its last 36 matches.
Friday’s Big 12 opener is also part of a month long celebration of U.S. Youth Soccer Month. And prior to the match, Mountaineer Maniacs can enjoy a pre-game tailgate with pizza courtesy of Papa John’s.
On Sunday, WVU students can also utilize a free shuttle bus service available from the Mountainlair & the Brooke/Braxton Towers loop from 11 a.m. to noon. Return service to the Mountainlair & the Brooke/Braxton Towers will also be available at the conclusion of the game.