MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 7-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opens the NCAA Championship against Rutgers Saturday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m., at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for youth and senior citizens. Admission is free for West Virginia University students with a valid student ID. Groups of 10 or more can purchase tickets in advance for $2 through the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum or by calling 1-800-WVU-GAME
A free shuttle bus service for WVU students will be available from the Mountainlair and the Brooke/Braxton Towers loop for an hour leading up to the match’s start time. Return service to the Mountainlair and the Brook/Braxton Towers loop also will be available at the conclusion of the match.
The Big 12 Conference champion Mountaineers (16-3-2, 7-1 Big 12) are making their 14th straight NCAA Championship appearance, the nation’s ninth-longest active streak. Saturday marks the seventh time WVU has played host to the NCAA Tournament.
“Hosting this game is an advantage, and if we can get Mountaineer Nation out to help us use that advantage, that would be terrific,” says two-time reigning Big 12 Coach of the Year Nikki Izzo-Brown. “I think the fans have done it all year long, and we need them out with lots of numbers and to stand behind these ladies. Let’s get that extra man in the stadium Saturday night – bring your gold and your blue and scream as loud as you can!”
Currently, the Mountaineers are the second-winningest team in program history with an 81.0 win percentage. Their 16 victories are the third-most wins in a season in the program’s 18 years.
WVU is 12-13 in all-time NCAA Tournament matches and 7-6 in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are 2-1 in NCAA Tournament first-round matches following conference tournament victories. Most recently, WVU dropped a 2-1 decision to Princeton in a 2012 NCAA Tournament first-round match on Nov. 10, at Dick Dlesk Stadium. The Mountaineers last advanced past the first round in 2010 with a 2-0 win over Morehead State on Nov. 12, in Morgantown.
“I think the last two years in the NCAA Tournament is behind us now,” explains Izzo-Brown. “One thing we need to do is advance. This is a new season, and this is something this team has talked about since August. Now they know what’s at stake, and I think we have a big ax to grind. We know what we haven’t done, and what we need to do to advance.”
Saturday’s match is the first between WVU and RU (13-4-4, 5-3-1 AAC) in the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers own an 11-4-1 record against their former Big East Conference foes.
The two teams met in an exhibition match in August, with WVU earning a 3-0 victory off goals from freshmen midfielders Bryce Banuelos
and Tessa Broadwater
, and senior midfielder Kara Blosser
. The Mountaineers also were victorious in the last regular-season meeting against the Scarlet Knights, picking up a 1-0 overtime win at Dick Dlesk Stadium on Sept. 25, 2011.
“Rutgers’ physicality and mentality is something we’re going to have to match,” says Izzo-Brown. “They’ve definitely improved all year long. It’s going to be a very different look and a very good team that we face. They’re going to be on the hunt to advance, and it’s going to be a battle Saturday night.”
The Mountaineers enter the tournament winning 12 of their last 13 matches. Most recently, WVU recorded three shutouts at the 2013 Big 12 Soccer Championship last week at Swope Soccer Village, in Kansas City, Mo., en route to winning the school’s first Big 12 tournament title with a 1-0 victory over No. 6-seed Oklahoma State on Nov. 10. Freshman midfielder Ashley Lawrence
tallied the game-winner in the 71st minute for her fourth score of the season.
Senior forward Frances Silva
, the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year and the Big 12 Tournament Offensive MVP, scored a tournament-best three goals last week, including the game-winners against Kansas on Nov. 6 and Baylor on Nov. 8. She boasts 43 points (15 G, 13 A) on the season and ranks No. 6 in the NCAA in points, No. 7 in assists and No. 18 in goals.
With her three clean sheets earned at the conference championship, senior goalkeeper Sara Keane
now boasts nine on the season, the third-best mark in the Big 12. The Mt. Laurel, N.J., native made a career-high nine saves in the victory over the Cowgirls, pushing her season save total to 59. She shows 26 career shutouts and ranks third in the program record book.
Freshman Kadeisha Buchanan
, the Big 12 Defender and Newcomer of the Year, and the Mountaineer defense held their opponents last week to a combined 11 shots on-goal.
The Scarlet Knights’ at-large bid is their third in the last five seasons. They advanced to the second round last year after winning at Colgate, 1-0, on Nov. 10. The Scarlet Knights then fell 6-1 at Virginia on Nov. 16.
RU finished second at the American Athletic Conference Championship last week. The Scarlet Knights needed two double-overtime matches to reach the championship match, defeating Cincinnati, 2-1, on Nov. 3 and advancing past Memphis with a 0-0 draw on Nov. 8; RU earned a 2-1 advantage in penalty kicks. Neither RU nor UCF scored in the championship match, and RU fell, 8-7, to the Knights in nine rounds of penalty kicks.
Senior goalkeeper Jess Janosz shows 8.2 shutouts this season and 73 saves for a .785 save percentage. She has allowed only 20 goals all year. Junior forward Stefanie Scholz leads RU with 21 points (10 G, 1 A), while senior forward Jonelle Filigno owns 19 points (8 G, 3 A).
Saturday’s winner will advance to play the winner of No. 1-seed Virginia Tech and UMBC. The sites will be on-campus at the highest remaining seeds in the second- and third-round portion of the bracket on Nov. 22 and 24.