No. 18 Mountaineers Open Big 12 Play on Road

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • September 26, 2013 12:55 PM
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 18-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opens the defense of its Big 12 Conference regular-season title on the road this weekend.

The Mountaineers (6-2-2) open conference play at Oklahoma State (4-2-3) tomorrow, Sept. 27, at 8 p.m. ET, at Cowgirl Soccer Complex, in Stillwater, Okla. WVU will then travel to No. 11 Baylor (7-0-2) on Sept. 29 for a 1:05 p.m. ET match at Betty Lou Mays Field, in Waco, Texas. Sunday’s match will be carried on FSN Plus.

“The big difference between this year in the Big 12 and last year is that we’ve competed against these teams, but we haven’t experienced their environments and the climate,” says Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “We have an understanding of what Oklahoma State and Baylor are going to do, we just have never been to their campuses or experienced this type of travel.”

WVU met both teams for the first time in Morgantown, W.Va., last season. The Mountaineers earned a 1-0 victory over then-No. 7 OSU on Sept. 23 and played to a 1-1 double-overtime draw against then No. 20-ranked BU on Oct. 12.

The Mountaineers enter conference play leading the Big 12 in points (7.6 per game), goals (2.5 per game) and assists (2.6 per game).

Senior forward Frances Silva leads the Mountaineers’ offensive attack, as she has tallied at least one point in every WVU game this season. The Overland Park, Kan., native ranks No. 1 in the NCAA with nine assists. She also leads the Big 12 and ranks No. 9 nationally with 21 points. Silva and junior forward Kate Schwindel are tied for No. 2 in the conference with six goals.

Senior Sara Keane owns a .683 save percentage in net this season. The Mt. Laurel, N.J., native has posted four shutouts this season, the third-best total in the Big 12, and made 28 saves, good enough for No. 6 in the conference.

The Mountaineers closed out their nonconference schedule with a pair of wins in Morgantown last weekend. WVU defeated Richmond, 2-0, on Sept. 20, before breezing past Wright State with a 4-1 victory on Sept. 22.

After 63 minutes of scoreless play against the Spiders, sophomore forward Kelsie Maloney netted the game-winner, heading a ball in from three-yards out. Freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence tallied the insurance goal.

WVU and WSU were tied at 1-1 in the 31st minute on Sunday when redshirt-freshman defender Carly Black scored her first career goal from six-yards out. Goals by sophomore midfielder Amanda Hill and Silva followed. Schwindel recorded the game’s first score.

Silva earned six points (one goal, four assists) on the weekend. She put together a five-point performance against the Raiders, as she matched a WVU single-game record with three assists.

OSU is 2-1-1 at home this season. Freshman forward Courtney Dike has recorded a pair of two-goal performances this year and leads the Big 12 with seven goals; she ranks behind Silva with 16 points. Junior goalkeeper Rosa Medina ranks second in the conference with 42 saves. She started OSU’s first eight games. Freshman Michela Ongaro earned the start against North Texas on Sept. 22 and recorded five saves in the Cowgirls’ 2-1 overtime win. Of note, nine yellow cards were issued in OSU’s victory, and red cards were given to the Cowgirls’ bench and sophomore defender Kelsey Bass.

The Bears own a nation-best 30 match unbeaten streak, with 16 victories coming in Waco, including the team’s 2-0 win over Boise State on Sept. 22. The only undefeated Big 12 team, BU has not allowed a goal at home in its last seven matches, dating back to last season. Junior keeper Michelle Kloss has allowed one goal all season and leads the Big 12 with a 0.11 goals-against average. She has made 23 saves and also ranks No. 1 in the conference in save percentage (.958). Senior midfielder Kat Ludlow has recorded two game-winners, while freshman midfielder Ashley York ranks a team-best seventh in the Big 12 with four goals.

Links for live scores and video feeds for this weekend’s matches can be found at WVUsports.com.