DURHAM, N.C. – The No. 9-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team played to a 1-1 draw at No. 12 Duke this evening at Koskinen Stadium in the opening match of the Duke Nike Classic.
The Mountaineers (3-0-2) scored first for the fifth time this season, but a questionable foul on WVU in the 76th minute awarded the Blue Devils (3-1-1) a penalty kick, and defender Mollie Pathman made good on the chance, placing the shot high above goalkeeper Sara Keane
“Duke had opportunities, and we had opportunities, so it never boils down to one play,” says 18-year Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “What’s unfortunate is that they scored off that call, because we were good enough to win tonight.”
Tonight’s double-overtime draw is the second of the season for WVU against a ranked opponent, as the team played to a 2-2 tie at then-No. 2 Penn State on Aug. 23. The Mountaineers have not lost to a ranked opponent since dropping a 2-1 double-overtime decision to Penn State on Aug. 31, 2012.
Despite a 25-12 shot advantage, the Blue Devils rarely challenged Keane, as the Mt. Laurel, N.J., native made four saves tonight. Duke’s Ali Kershner made three saves this evening, and the Blue Devils owned a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks.
“That’s the thing with this team – we’re so young back there, and it speaks well for us to withstand the pressure that Duke applied,” says Izzo-Brown. “We have two freshmen center backs, and I was really proud of the way Carly (Black) and Keisha (Kadeisha Buchanan
) played. They continue to get better, and that’s what we want.”
Senior forward Frances Silva
gave the Mountaineers the first-half lead and continued her scoring streak in the 29th minute, as she took advantage of an earned opportunity following a Duke foul near the right flank. The Overland Park, Kan., native received a dribbler from junior defender Jess Crowder
and sent the ball across the box and toward the left post for her third score of the season.
With the goal, Silva has now earned at least one point in every Mountaineer contest this season. Her career goal total stands at 26, the ninth-best mark in program history.
“This was huge for Frances to get on the board against another quality opponent,” Izzo-Brown explains. “I’m excited for her to continue to get better as this year progresses.”
Duke nearly tied the game in the 65th minute, but Keane came up with a critical save, as she batted down an attempt inside the six-yard line from forward Laura Weinberg. The Blue Devils’ Kelly Cobb got a foot on the rebound, but her shot went high above the goal.
The Mountaineers’ best chance in the extra periods came with less than 90 seconds remaining in the second overtime. Silva broke through the Duke defense but was taken down from behind just outside the 18-yard box. WVU was awarded a free kick, which resulted in a high Silva shot.
Duke’s best shot in extra time came less than 60 seconds in, as forward Laura Weinberg took a booming shot at Keane, but the ball met the right goal post and bounced away.
The Mountaineers return to the pitch this Sunday and face No. 1-ranked North Carolina at 11 a.m. The Tar Heels, the defending national champions, kicked off against No. 2 UCLA this evening in tonight’s second match of the invitational.
“We know that against teams of this caliber, we need to take better care of the ball and make sure that we eliminate mental errors, because these teams can punish you,” Izzo-Brown concludes. “We need to move into Sunday saying we’re going to eliminate mental errors and play West Virginia soccer. We need to give the Tar Heels everything we’ve got.”