Women's Soccer Set for Big 12 Championship

  • By Shannon McNamara
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  • November 05, 2013 02:48 PM
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Sophomore forward Kelsie Maloney netted the game-winner in the Mountaineers' victory over the Jayhawks in October.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.  – The No. 15-ranked and top-seeded West Virginia University women’s soccer team will face No. 8 seed Kansas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Soccer Championship on Wednesday, Nov. 6, at 6:30 p.m. ET, at Swope Soccer Village, in Kansas City, Mo.
WVU’s postseason opener will be streamed live at Big12Sports.com.
The Mountaineers (13-3-2, 7-1 Big 12) enter the conference championship as the No. 1 seed in back-to-back seasons, having secured their second straight Big 12 regular-season title on Oct. 25, with a 2-1 double-overtime victory at Oklahoma. The Jayhawks (7-10-2, 2-5-1 Big 12) were the last team to clinch a spot in the tournament, as their own 2-1 win against the Sooners, a victory in Lawrence, Kan., on Nov. 1, secured their championship bid.
WVU closed the 2013 regular season winning nine of 10 games. WVU has not played since dropping a 2-0 decision at then-No. 7 Texas Tech on Oct. 27.
“The rest was important for us,” says 2013 Big 12 Conference Coach of the Year Nikki Izzo-Brown. “We start a new season this week. We’re going to do the same things, but we’ve definitely entered the most important season of the year because it’s the season at hand.
“We’ve battled wearing the target all year, and I think we’ve learned lessons. We understand if we let our guard down at all, it could lead to some unfortunate results. We want to protect ourselves and make sure we don’t do that again.”
The Mountaineers are 16-9-4 all-time in conference tournament matches. The Mountaineers dropped a 2-0 decision to No.-8 seed TCU in the 2012 Big 12 Soccer Championship quarterfinals. WVU has been shutout just twice in its last 15 conference tournament matches.
The Mountaineers are 2-0 all-time against the Jayhawks, most recently defeating KU, 2-0, on Oct. 18, at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium, in Morgantown. Two goals in the match’s first 14 minutes were all WVU needed, as sophomore forward Kelsie Maloney netted her team-best fourth game-winner in the 10th minute, and senior forward Frances Silva, the conference’s unanimous Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, netted the insurance goal four minutes later. Senior goalkeeper Sara Keane made two saves en route to her sixth shutout of the season.
“I like the idea that we have a feel for Kansas already – of course, they have a feel for West Virginia, too,” says Izzo-Brown. “I like that we’ve seen them, and that the match wasn’t too long ago.
“I think Kansas has a couple special players. They play very possession-orientated soccer, and they are a dangerous team. It’s just a matter of whether they can bring it all together on one day. Wednesday will come down to who does their job better.”
The WVU offense ranks No. 22 in the NCAA, No. 1 in the Big 12, with a 2.33 goals-per-game average. The squad’s 7.17 points-per-game average, No. 13 in the nation, also is tops in the conference.
Silva enters the tournament boasting a conference-best 37 points (12 G, 13 A). She leads the Big 12 in goals and assists, and her assist total is a WVU single-season record. Junior linemate Kate Schwindel ranks second in the Big 12 in points (28) and goals (11), while Maloney is second in game-winners (4) and sixth in goals (6) and points (18).
The WVU defense, led by Big 12 Defender and Newcomer of the Year Kadeisha Buchanan, has allowed 23 goals this season. In addition to its shutout victory of KU, WVU also blanked conference opponent Iowa State, 2-0, on Oct. 11; the Cyclones are the tournament’s No. 4 seed.
KU enters the tournament averaging 1.0 goals-per-game. The Jayhawks have failed to score in 10 matches this season, a program record. Goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has tallied a conference-best 99 saves this year and ranks third in the Big 12 with an 81.8 save percentage.
The winner of tomorrow evening’s game will face the winner of No. 4 Iowa State – No. 5 Baylor on Friday, No. 8, at 6:30 p.m. ET.