MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A late rally from No. 16 West Virginia fell short as Princeton prevailed, 2-1, Saturday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship.
Despite a very strong first half, West Virginia trailed after 45 minutes on a goal in the fifth minute from Tiger forward Lynessa McGee. McGee took a shot from just inside the top of the box that deflected off a Mountaineer defender, pushing the ball into the upper right corner for a 1-0 lead.
West Virginia put six shots on-goal in the first half, including two more off the crossbar, with Princeton goalkeeper Claire Pinciaro coming up with several big saves.
“I don’t know how many posts we hit, at least three crossbars and a post,” said coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “Soccer can be a very cruel sport sometimes. I give Princeton a lot of credit though for finishing their opportunities tonight. Unfortunately, we were not able to.”
The Tigers doubled their lead at the 53:59 mark on forward Jen Hoy’s 18th goal of the season. Hoy, the Ivy League Player of the Year, ran onto a long ball up the middle, taking several touches into the box to draw WVU goalkeeper Sara Keane
off her line. Hoy moved the ball around Keane, slotting the ball into an empty net for the eventual game-winner.
Trailing 2-0, the Mountaineers pressured late in the second half and narrowed their deficit in the 82nd minute. Silva scored her team-best 11th goal of the season on a header from six yards out. Forward Kelsie Maloney
beat a defender in the left corner, sending a ball into the middle where Silva’s header beat a diving Pinciaro inside the right post.
“The game is about finishing, and unfortunately, we smacked the ball at their goalkeeper at least seven times," said Izzo-Brown. "We can’t do that. It was a great finish by Frances, but unfortunately, a little too late (on the rally).”
West Virginia outshot Princeton in each half, finishing with a 20-12 advantage. WVU also held a 6-2 corner kick edge, and the Tigers were whistled for nine more fouls (14-5) than the Mountaineers.
Forward Kate Schwindel
, who had two second half scoring chances from inside the box, led all players with seven shots. The sophomore one-timed a cross over the goal and drove a shot directly into the arms of Pinciaro from the penalty spot.
Hoy and midfielder Caitlin Blosser each took three shots to Pace the Tigers.
Pinciaro finished with seven saves in net, while WVU's Keane stopped four Princeton shots.
Princeton extended its unbeaten streak to 12 matches to improve to 14-3-1 overall. The Tigers advance to face Marquette, the Big East champions, in the second round of the NCAA Championship in Provo, Utah.
West Virginia’s season ends at 11-5-4 with a Big 12 regular-season championship.
Saturday marked the final match for five Mountaineers: Nicolette DeLaurentis
, Caitlin Hulyo
, Bry McCarthy
, Bri Rodriguez
and Mallory Smith
“It is always hard for me, because I ultimately always remember the senior classes. That is why I grind,” said Izzo-Brown. “The best part has always been my journey with them. They have a lot to be proud of with another championship year in a difficult and totally new conference. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it done tonight.”