No. 15 Women's Soccer Plays for Big 12 Title


By Shannon McNamara for WVUsports.com
November 09, 2013 07:04 PM
Senior Sara Keane made two big saves in the Mountaineers' 1-0 win over Baylor Friday.
Photo from the Big 12 Conference
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The No. 15 ranked and top-seeded West Virginia University women’s soccer team will meet sixth-seeded Oklahoma State in the 2013 Big 12 Soccer Championship match on Sunday, Nov. 10, at 4:30 p.m. ET, at Swope Soccer Village. Fox Sports 1 will carry the match.
 
The Mountaineers (15-3-2, 7-1 Big 12) are the first WVU program to advance to a Big 12 Conference championship game. Sunday’s match is the squad’s sixth conference tournament final and third in four seasons.
 
“I think that qualifying for our sixth championship match is just a great reflection of what this program builds on and what the players have done before us,” says 18-year Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “This is a program that wants to win championships, and this is a huge reflection on the effort that every former player has put forth, and also the hard work this team has put in. Tomorrow is a little extra special because it’s our first Big 12 Championship match. There’s always extra motivation to do something for the first time. I hope that is something we really fall back on tomorrow.
 
“I thought starting this program was one of the more difficult times that I’ve faced as a coach, but I would have to say that this year has been one of the hardest and most adverse seasons that I’ve ever coached. I think advancing to tomorrow’s championship is just a huge reflection of how resilient this team is and how everyone has buckled down and kept plugging away. I’m really proud of that.”
 
WVU, the two-time reigning Big 12 Conference regular-season champions, has won three conference tournaments, including two in the last four seasons. Most recently, the squad won the 2011 Big East Soccer Championship with a 2-0 win over Louisville on Nov. 6, in Morgantown, W.Va.
 
The Mountaineers own a 2-0 series advantage over the Cowgirls (9-5-6, 2-3-3 Big 12). WVU opened its 2013 Big 12 schedule with a 2-1 victory in Stillwater, Okla., on Sept. 27.
 
“I think everybody has now found themselves at this point of the season, and I definitely think OSU is a different team now then we saw in September,” says Izzo-Brown.
 
Senior forward Frances Silva, the unanimous Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year selection, enters the championship match boasting a program-best six goals scored in four different conference tournaments. The Overland Park, Kan., native has tallied three scores this week, including the game-winners against Kansas on Nov. 6 and Baylor on Nov. 8. She shows a Big 12-best 15 goals on the season, a WVU senior single-season record, and 13 assists, for 43 points, also a WVU senior single-season record. Her season-point total is four short of the WVU record (47, Chrissie Abbott, 2002). She also leads the conference in assists and points.
 
“As I’ve said from day one, everyone needs to keep creating chances and finishing the chances that they get,” says Izzo-Brown. “Nothing would make me happier than for Franny to win this championship here in front of her friends and family.”
 
Classmate Sara Keane has tallied two clean sheets in as many games. She made two saves against the Bears, including a diving stop on a free kick in the match’s closing seconds that thwarted any BU hopes for extra time.
 
The WVU defense, led by Big 12 Defender and Newcomer of the Year Kadeisha Buchanan, has held its first two tournament opponents to a combined 21 shots and eight corners.
 
“OSU has some special players that can cause havoc and prevent a shutout,” explains Izzo-Brown. “We just have to focus on our own jobs and make sure that we are aware of what we need to do and also what OSU likes to do.”
 
The Mountaineers punched their ticket to the championship with a 1-0 win over fifth-seeded BU on Friday. Silva connected on a free kick from 21-yards out in the 51st minute to break open a scoreless game and give WVU an advantage it would hold on to, despite an offensive flurry from the fifth-seeded Bears in the match’s closing minutes. The victory was the 250th win in Mountaineer program history.
 
OSU advances to the Big 12 Championship match on the heels of two upsets, defeating third-seeded Texas, 2-1, on Nov. 6, and No. 7 ranked, No. 2-seed Texas Tech, 1-0, last night. Freshman forward Courtney Dike, an All-Big 12 Second Team honoree, netted a goal in both matches, including the game-winner against the Red Raiders, and ranks second in the conference with 13 goals. She also ranks second behind Silva in points with 30 (13 G, 4 A).
 
Freshman goalkeeper Michela Ongaro earned the shutout against TTU. She has seen time in 12 matches and has recorded 46 saves. She ranks third in the Big 12 with a 0.71 goals against average.
 
Tomorrow’s championship appearance will be OSU’s fourth in five seasons. The Cowgirls won the 2009 and 2010 titles.



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