NORMAN, Okla. – The No. 6-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team won its fourth straight conference championship and retained its 15 match Big 12 Conference unbeaten streak with a 2-1 double-overtime victory at Oklahoma tonight at John Crain Field.
The win pushes the Mountaineers’ (13-2-2, 7-0 Big 12) 2013 win streak to nine matches and puts their all-time Big 12 record at 14-0-1.
Tonight’s title is the Mountaineers’ second straight Big 12 regular season championship. WVU entered the night with 18 points in league play, and this win puts the team’s point total at 21, a number no other team can match. By clinching the regular-season championship, WVU has assured itself the No. 1 seed in the 2013 Big 12 Soccer Championship.
The conference’s preseason favorite, WVU is the third team in Big 12 history to win back-to-back championships. This is the seventh time the preseason favorite in the coaches’ poll won the title.
Tonight’s win gives WVU a 2-0-2 record in overtime games this season. Additionally, the victory is the Mountaineers’ first of the season when their opponent has scored first.
“For us to come in here and win after falling behind just speaks volumes of the hard work and focus that this team has put forth,” says Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “This team surprises me, given all the adversity we’ve battled this season and tonight. To come from behind and win tonight was just awesome.
“To win four straight conference championships says a lot, not only about the alumni but also the character of this program and this team. It’s a great feeling to witness this team play again and see how much they battled for another championship. I’m so excited we get to bring this home because this is a great one.”
Junior forward Kate Schwindel
netted her second golden goal in two weeks, as she put her match-high ninth shot of the game past OU’s Kassidie Stade to deliver the win. Senior forward Frances Silva
sent a through ball to a streaking Schwindel inside the box, and she put her shot far post from 12 yards out in the 101st minute.
The goal was the 11th of the season for Schwindel, who also netted the game-winner in WVU’s 3-2 overtime victory over TCU on Oct. 13.
With the assist, her team-best 13th of the season, Silva set the program’s single-season record, breaking a tie with associate head coach Lisa Stoia (2003) and Kim Bonilla (2006).
Down a goal with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, Silva evened the score with her Big 12-best 12th goal of the season. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Hill
settled the ball just over midfield and sent a through ball to Silva, who beat Stade near post with a high shot from 12 yards out.
The goal gives the Overland Park, Kan., native 35 for her career, the fourth-best total in program history.
“I thought Oklahoma’s goalkeeper was brilliant tonight – she came up with some unbelievable saves,” says Izzo-Brown. “I thought Oklahoma did a really good job trying to throw us off balance, but tonight was just a matter of us figuring out how to break them down and get that goal. This game can be brutal.
“Tonight, Kate and Frances found a way to lead us to victory. Both of them have done such a great job this whole year being true leaders and finding a way to win championships.”
WVU senior goalkeeper Sara Keane
made three saves in the win, while Stade recorded a career-best seven shots in the loss.
The Mountaineers outshot the Sooners (4-12-1, 1-6 Big 12) 20-5, including 10 shots in the second half. WVU also earned a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks.
The Oklahoma goal came suddenly in the 63rd minute. After receiving a cross from Devin Barrett, Shiloh Price took a shot on the goal right near the post. Keane came out and met the shot at the corner, but the ball snuck behind her and forward Daisy Cardona pushed the ball behind the goal line for the score.
The Mountaineers nearly opened the match’s scoring in the 58th minute. A rebound off a shot from Silva bounced right to freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence
. She was able to control the ball and get a clean look at the net, but her low shot hit the near post and bounced away.
The first half saw a lot of back-and-forth play from the two teams, with neither squad able to penetrate the backlines.
The Mountaineers’ offense turned on the pressure in the final 10 minutes of the first half, with Schwindel having a hand in both scoring chances. Schwindel almost put WVU on the board in the 35th minute, as she caused an OU turnover, turned, beat her defender and took the ball into the box, where she got a shot off from 10 yards out. Stade easily caught the ball for the save.
Three minutes later, Schwindel fed the ball to sophomore defender Cari Price
, who turned and dribbled into the box. Stade came out and met Price near the six-yard line and dove to block the shot attempt.
OU’s best attempt in the first half came early, as Jemma Cota took a shot from six yards out, but it went wide and above the net.
With the win, WVU improves to 2-0 all-time against the Sooners.
The Mountaineers close out the regular season at No. 7 Texas Tech this Sunday, Oct. 27, at 7 p.m. ET. The Red Raiders defeated Kansas, 1-0, this evening in Lubbock, Texas.
“I’m looking for a quick recovery from this team – we don’t want a hangover from tonight’s win,” says Izzo-Brown. “We need to make sure we take care of business at Texas Tech. They have been nationally ranked all year and are going to give us a battle. We need to enjoy tonight and enjoy the championship, but we know we need to get the job done on Sunday.”