LIVE SCORES vs. No. 2 Penn State
| LIVE SCORES vs. SyracuseLIVE VIDEO
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 19-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opens its 2013 season this weekend at the Penn State Invitational, Aug. 23-25, at Jeffrey Field, in University Park, Pa.
The Mountaineers kick off the weekend against the No. 2-ranked Nittany Lions, the 2012 national runner-up, on Friday, at 7:30 p.m. The team will meet former Big East opponent Syracuse on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Admission and parking for both games is free.
“This is going to be a tough weekend,” says 18th-year coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “What’s going to be key is for us to take care of the ball, focus on the things we’ve focused on throughout this preseason and make sure we keep our composure.”
Izzo-Brown enters this weekend, her 19th season as head coach, two wins shy of 250 career victories (248-97-36). She led WVU to two exhibition wins this fall, as the team topped former Big East foes Rutgers, 3-0, on Aug. 13, and No. 18 Georgetown, 1-0, in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 17.
“With us having those two exhibition wins, we have some confidence moving forward,” Izzo-Brown says. “We feel really good where we’re at. We know Penn State is going to present so many different problems for us, but hopefully we’re going to have the answers and get the win Friday.”
The Mountaineers, the 2013 Big 12 Conference preseason favorite, open the season after winning the conference’s regular-season crown with a 7-0-1 record in their inaugural season in the league. Nine starters return from the 2012 campaign (11-5-4) that saw WVU make its 13th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, the 10th-best streak in the nation.
WVU returns 88 percent of its goal scoring from one year ago, as underclassmen accounted for 30 of the team’s 34 goals. Twenty of the team’s 34 goals came from the returning duo of senior forward Frances Silva
(11) and junior forward Kate Schwindel
(9); both earned All-Big 12 honors last season, with Schwindel garnering a first-team selection. The pair was tagged earlier this month on the 2012 Preseason All-Big 12 Team, along with senior midfielder Kara Blosser
, junior defender Jess Crowder
and freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence
Senior Sara Keane
returns in goal for the Mountaineers after registering 17 shutouts over the past two seasons. Additionally, Crowder and sophomore Leah Emaus
return to anchor the back line; both were first-time starters in 2012.
Defender Kadeisha Buchanan
, midfielder Bryce Banuelos
and Lawrence stand out among the Mountaineers’ nine newcomers. Buchanan and Lawrence are Canadian National Team members, while Banuelos is coming off a U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship victory this summer.
Also set to return to the pitch this weekend is redshirt-freshman defender Carly Black
WVU and PSU have met 10 times since 2003, and each owns five wins. The then-No. 6 ranked Nittany Lions got the better of the Mountaineers one year ago, as they won 2-1 in double overtime at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in the WVU 90 Minute Classic on Aug. 31. Down 1-0, Schwindel tied the game in the 85th minute. An obstruction call at the top of the box with 82 seconds remaining gave PSU a free kick, and former Nittany Lion Christine Narin took advantage of the opportunity.
The Mountaineers last defeated the Nittany Lions, 2-1, in the NCAA Championship second round on Nov. 14, 2010, in Morgantown. Six of the last seven meetings between the two teams have been one-goal margins.
PSU returns 8-of-11 starters from 2012, including two-time NSCAA First Team All-American Maya Hayes, Big Ten Defender of the Year Whitney Church and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Raquel Rodriquez.
WVU enters the Invitational with four straight wins over Syracuse and owning an 8-3-2 series advantage. In their last meeting, WVU defeated the Orange, 5-1, on Oct. 9, 2011, at DDSS.
The Orange return to the field after making a second consecutive Big East Tournament appearance in 2012, the first time SU has accomplished the feat since 1999 and 2000. SU earned nine wins last season, its highest total in coach Phil Wheddon’s five-year tenure. Senior Brittany Anghel, the 2012 Big East Goalkeeper of the Year, returns in net for the Orange, while the squad retained three of its five top scorers from last year.