MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Senior forward Frances Silva
’s two goals delivered the No. 10-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team a victory in its home Big 12 Conference opener, as the Mountaineers defeated Texas, 2-1, this evening, in front of 1,553 fans at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
The fifth-best women’s soccer crowd in stadium history cheered the Mountaineers (9-2-2, 3-0 Big 12) on to their fifth straight win of the season. WVU’s victory pushes its all-time Big 12 record to 10-0-1.
“This is a huge win because that Texas team is a great team – they’re better than they were last year,” says Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “They’re great athletes and are very organized. For us to pull it together and come out with a victory is huge. You’re competing for a Big 12 championship every game, and every point matters. This team is very resilient.
“Also – what a crowd tonight! Wow! Thank you fans. You were great.”
The Mountaineers fought to hold on to their lead for the third straight conference game, as they built a two-score advantage before UT (8-4-2, 2-1 Big 12) got on the board. WVU shrugged off a goal from midfielder Lindsey Meyer in the 49th minute, and the Mountaineer defense buckled down to deliver the win.
“I was proud of the way we managed the clock,” says Izzo-Brown. “We negated some of the tendencies of what Texas was looking for. I thought the backline did its job – just keep it simple, do your job, have soccer IQ and take care of the clock. ”
WVU’s victory margin could have been bigger, as the Mountaineers placed seven of their 16 shots on goal, but unlucky bounces prevented WVU, the Big 12’s top scoring offense, from adding to its point total.
Senior goalkeeper Sara Keane
made three saves in the victory, while UT’s Abby Smith made a season-high five. The Mountaineers outshot the Longhorns 16-6 and earned six corners to UT’s two; all six corners came in the second period.
“UT’s goalkeeper is fabulous – she represented the USA in the under-20 World Cup,” explains Izzo-Brown. “We were able to move her around a bit and create some chances, but at the end of the day we need to finish.
“The Big 12 is definitely an athletic, big conference, and you saw that tonight. I thought we did well with what we had.”
The Mountaineers wasted little time padding their one-goal lead in the second half, as the team’s top two pointer earners connected for the squad’s second goal 32 seconds into the period. WVU came out of the locker room in attack mode. A Longhorn turnover near midfield allowed WVU to retain possession, and sophomore defender Cari Price
sent the ball deep into the corner. Junior forward Kate Schwindel
chased it down and sent a centering pass to Silva, who beat Smith far post for her second score of the game.
Silva tallied her first goal in three games in the 15th minute, as she finished a cross from freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence
, beating Smith far post from 10-yards out. Lawrence was the Mountaineers’ energy spark early in the match, and she broke away from the pack in the scoring play and carried the ball across midfield before sending a cross to a streaking Silva.
Silva now shows a team-best eight goals on the season, pushing her team- and conference-best point total to 26 (eight goals, 10 assists). The Overland Park, Kan., native’s 31 career goals tie her with Laura Kane (2001-04) for sixth place in the Mountaineer record book, while her 81 career points are good enough for seventh place.
“Wow, those are some great goal scorers,” says Izzo-Brown. “Good for Franny. She’s put herself among a great bunch. How awesome for her tonight.”
Schwindel’s assist on Silva’s second goal gives her at least one point in every Big 12 match this season. She shows 20 points on the year (eight goals, four assists). Lawrence’s assist on the first score was her third of the season, pushing her point total to seven (two goals, three assists).
The Longhorns’ goal in the 49th minute came off a free kick, as midfielder Gabby Zarnegar sent a cross to the far post. Chaos in front of the net allowed Meyer to get a head on the ball for the score.
Sophomore forward Kailey Utley
created a chance for WVU to earn back its two-goal lead in the 57th minute. The St. Louis, Mo., native used good foot control to draw a crowd, including Smith, toward her near the post. She sent a cross to sophomore forward Kelsey Maloney, who had an open look at an empty net but just misplayed her shot attempt.
Silva and Lawrence nearly connected for a score twice in the first period. Lawrence chased a ball down in to the corner before sending a cross to Silva directly in front of the net. Silva took a shot from six-yards out, but Smith dove toward the far post for the save.
The Longhorns’ best first-half chance came in the 21st minute, as forward Kelsey Shimmick took a clean look at the net from 18-yards out, but Keane nabbed the save.
The Mountaineers stay home and play host to Iowa State next Friday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m., at Dick Dlesk. The match is the team’s Pink Game, and all fans are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness.