NCAA Action Begins Saturday

  • By Tim Goodenow
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  • November 09, 2012 11:58 AM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 16 ranked West Virginia women’s soccer team plays host to Princeton on Saturday, Nov. 10, in NCAA tournament opening-round action. Kickoff at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for youth and senior citizens. Admission is free for West Virginia University students with a valid student ID. Student shuttle bus service is available from 6-7:30 p.m. from Towers and the Mountainlair to the Coliseum for the soccer game. Buses will take students back from the game, as well, up to an hour after the game.

West Virginia and Princeton are meeting for only the second time. WVU scored a 2-1 win over Princeton in the first round of the 2008 NCAA tournament in Charlottesville, Va.

WVU first made the NCAA Championship in 2000 and has not missed a season since, advancing to the Sweet 16 three times and the Elite Eight in 2007. WVU’s 13 consecutive trips to the NCAA tournament are the nation’s ninth-longest streak.

The Mountaineers closed out the 2012 regular season with an 11-3-4 record, including a 7-0-1 mark in conference play. However, eighth-seeded TCU stunned top-seeded WVU, 2-0, in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Soccer Championship on Oct. 31 in San Antonio, Texas. The loss snapped WVU’s 13-match unbeaten streak.

“It’s been good to get back to campus and work on some things after a disappointing conference championship,” says coach Nikki Izzo-Brown, the 2012 Big 12 Coach of the Year. “The extra days of recovery have been a positive, and this group is really focused on extending our season.”

Izzo-Brown led her team to the Big 12 regular-season championship in its inaugural season. Senior outside back Bry McCarthy was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, becoming the program’s first defensive player to earn a conference major award.

The Mountaineers also are led by All-Big 12 performers Bri Rodriguez, Kate Schwindel and Frances Silva. WVU landed three players on the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team squad in defender Leah Emaus, midfielder Kara Blosser and forward Kelsie Maloney.

Julie Shackford is in her 18th season at Princeton, 22nd overall as a head coach, leading the Tigers to their 10th NCAA appearance. Shackford is 5-7 all-time at Princeton in the NCAA tournament, including a trip to the 2004 College Cup.

The Tigers are riding an 11-match win streak, the third-longest in program history. Princeton went 7-0-0 in Ivy League matches to win the conference championship and earn an automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.

Princeton placed eight players on All-Ivy League teams, including five first-team selections. Senior forward Jen Hoy earned Ivy League Player of the Year honors behind her 17 goals, the second-most in school history. She ranks third in the nation in goals per game (1.0).

“We know they are well-coached and have well-developed players, as seen with eight players earning all-conference honors this week,” says Izzo-Brown. “They have a pair of special forwards up top who can put the ball in the back of the net at any moment.”

Forward Lauren Lazo was named All-Ivy League First Team after a 10-goal sophomore season, including a hat trick in the Ivy clincher against Penn. The duo of Hoy and Lazo form one of the nation’s top offenses as Princeton ranks third in the nation in scoring at 2.88 goals per game.

Defensively, the Tigers are led by goalkeeper Claire Pinciaro who sports a goals-against average of 1.11. She has recorded 46 saves in only 14 matches, with three shutouts, to earn All-Ivy League Second Team recognition.

“It’s important that we get after their back line and really test their goalkeeper,” says Izzo-Brown. “She played a big part in helping Princeton win its championship, and we will have to work hard to get shots past her.”

The Mountaineers are 12-12 all-time in NCAA Championship play, having been shut out only four times in its last 12 NCAA tournament contests.

WVU has hosted the NCAA tournament in six previous seasons (2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2010 and 2011). West Virginia is 7-5 all-time in NCAA home matches, including a 1-0 loss to Virginia Tech in the NCAA first round last season.

The Mountaineers are serving as one of 32 host schools for the first round of the national tournament, with Saturday’s winner advancing to Provo, Utah, for second- and third- round action against the Marquette-Illinois State survivor.

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