KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A goal from the 2013 Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year was all the No. 15-ranked West Virginia University women’s’ soccer team needed tonight, as the top-seeded Mountaineers defeated fifth-seeded Baylor, 1-0, at Swope Soccer Village for the 250th victory in the program’s 18-year history.
Senior forward Frances Silva
connected on a free kick in the 51st minute for her conference-best 15th goal of the season. The game-winner was the fourth of the season for the Overland Park, Kan., native.
“Having Fran finish that opportunity was huge for us,” says 18-year Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “I’m really proud that we’re heading to the championship match.”
With the win, the Mountaineers (15-3-2, 7-1 Big 12) advance to their third conference championship match in four seasons, sixth all-time championship appearance, and first in Big 12 play. The Mountaineers are the 10th top seed to advance to the Big 12 Soccer Championship match. Sunday’s championship-match appearance will be the first championship contest for a Mountaineer program in Big 12 play.
“We needed to play West Virginia soccer tonight and not get caught up in what Baylor does so well,” says Izzo-Brown. “Right now, we need to rest, rejuvenate and get ready for a championship match.”
The Bears (11-6-3, 3-4-1 Big 12) had a shot to tie the match with under 10 seconds to play, as a whistle awarded a free kick to Bri Campos. As the seconds ticked down, the sophomore took a shot that went over the Mountaineer defensive wall and toward the net, but WVU senior goalkeeper Sara Keane
made a diving save to preserve her eighth shutout of the season and second in as many games.
“What I asked this team to do tonight was for everyone to do her job,” Izzo-Brown explains. “Our backs did exactly what they are capable of doing and really stepped up. Sara has done a great job for us all season long and really stepped up as a senior tonight. I’m really happy and proud that she was able to get the shutout.”
Though the two teams both registered 14 shots tonight, the Mountaineers earned a 5-2 advantage in shots on-goal. WVU also withstood six corner kicks from the Bears, while the Mountaineers registered three.
Silva registered a game-best five shots, including four on-goal. With 15 goals this season, she now sits tied with Ashley Banks (2007) for the WVU senior single-season record. Her 43 points (15 G, 13 A) rank No. 2 in the WVU single-season record book, and she is four points short of tying Chrissie Abbot (2002) for the record.
Though Keane only made two saves on the evening, they were both huge. In addition to her stop in the closing seconds, the Mt. Laurel, N.J., native dove for a save in the seventh minute that negated the Bears’ best look of the first half. Campos got a clean look at the net and took a blast from 17-yards out. With the ball bending in the wind, Keane dove near post and batted it out of the air for her first save of the postseason.
Keane now shows 25 career shutouts and moves up the Mountaineer career chart to No. 3.
BU’s Michelle Kloss made four saves in 81 minutes of action.
Though play was mostly between the 18-yard lines in the first half, both teams had a few quality chances, especially the Mountaineers in the final 25 minutes.
Freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence
and Silva nearly gave WVU the one-goal advantage in the 22nd minute. After receiving a throw in, the Toronto, Ontario, native put a move on her defender, turned and took a shot from 16-yards out that was blocked by a wall of BU defenders. Silva corralled the deflection and took her own shot from 15 yards, but Kloss was able to make the save.
Sophomore forward Kelsie Maloney
had her own chance to grab the lead, as she single-handedly changed the momentum in the 26th minute. With the Bears pressing on offense, Maloney took possession and advanced the ball up the field, beating multiple defenders, but her shot from 17-yards out was stopped by Koss. Then, just one minute later, Lawrence fed the ball to Maloney in the middle of the box, but her straight-on shot went wide. The final quality opportunity of the four-minute swing came in the 29th minute, as a cross from Maloney found the head of freshman midfielder Tessa Broadwater
, but her chance right in front of the net went high.
WVU nearly padded its one-goal lead in the 53rd minute. A cross from Maloney found the foot of Silva, who sent a high pass to Broadwater. Her header went just above the net.
With the win, WVU improves to 2-0-1 all-time against the Bears.
The Mountaineers will face the winner of No. 2-seed Texas Tech – No. 6-seed Oklahoma State in the championship match this Sunday, Nov. 10, at 4:30 p.m. Fox Sports 1 will carry the match.