Women's Soccer 2014 Preview
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 10-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opens its 2014 season this week, as the Mountaineers travel to University Park, Pennsylvania, for the Penn State Invitational. WVU will battle No. 11 Penn State on Friday, Aug. 22, at 7:30 p.m., at Jeffrey Field.
Ready for Battle
One thing is certain entering the 2014 season – the Mountaineers will be challenged. WVU’s slate features six opponents that appeared in the 2013 NCAA Tournament: Penn State, Duke, Georgetown, La Salle, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.
“The goal is always to improve every game in preparation for conference play and to be competing for as long as we can at the end of the season,” says WVU coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “To be the best, you must play the best – that’s always been my philosophy.”
For the second straight season, and the third time in four years, WVU will open at Penn State. The team also will face Missouri that weekend.
WVU opens its 10th year at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium against No. 12 Duke, a 2013 NCAA Tournament quarterfinalist, on Aug. 29. The two teams battled to a 1-1 double-overtime draw at the 2013 Duke Nike Classic.
The Mountaineers will compete at DDSS 12 times in 2014, and the two-time defending Big 12 Conference regular-season champions and reigning conference tournament champions will close out their slate with three straight home matches against league opponents – Oklahoma State, the 2013 Big 12 Tournament runners-up, Oklahoma and Baylor, the 2012 conference tournament champions.
Nice to Meet You
The Mountaineers will face three first-time opponents in 2014: Missouri, Elon and UNC Greensboro.
In the program’s 18-year history (moving into 2014), the Mountaineers have faced 97 different teams. WVU was 2-1-1 against first-time foes in 2013, including a 1-1 double-overtime draw at Duke on Sept. 6.
Going For Five
The Mountaineers look to push their Big 12 Conference haul to five in 2014, as WVU seeks its third straight regular-season championship and a successful defense of its tournament title.
WVU opens its conference season on the road with a swing through Texas, as the team opens at TCU on Sept. 26 before a Sunday showdown against the Longhorns on Sept. 28. The Mountaineers face a tough challenge in their home Big 12 opener, as Texas Tech, the only conference team to earn a regular-season victory over WVU, travels to Morgantown for a Friday night match on Oct. 10. The contest will be featured on the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) TV College Soccer Showcase Series.
After matches at Iowa State and Kansas, WVU closes out its regular season with three straight Big 12 matches at DDSS, including a season-ending match against Baylor, the 2012 Big 12 Tournament champions, on Oct. 31. WVU snapped BU’s 31-game unbeaten streak last season with a 4-3 victory in Waco on Sept. 29, 2013.
Following a successful first stint, the Big 12 Soccer Championship will be held at Swope Soccer Village, in Kansas City, Missouri, Nov. 5-9. The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds were streamed by the Big 12 Digital Network on Big12Sports.com in 2013, and Fox Sports 1 carried the championship match. The top eight teams based on conference results determined by a point system qualify for the Big 12 Championship. A squad gets three points for each conference win and one point for each conference tie.
All-Big 12 Talent Returns
Five of the Mountaineers’ six All-Big 12 honorees from last season return in 2014, including Big 12 Defender and Newcomer of the Year, Kadeisha Buchanan. She is one of three first-team honorees on this year’s squad, as forwards Kate Schwindel, a two-time honoree, and Ashley Lawrence also return.
Midfielder Amanda Hill was named to the second team, and defender Carly Black landed on the Newcomer Team, along with Buchanan and Lawrence.
Schwindel, Maloney to Lead Offensive Attack
Despite the loss of All-American forward Frances Silva, the Mountaineers return 68 percent of their goal scoring from 2013, including forwards Kate Schwindel and Kelsie Maloney. The duo combined for 17 goals last season, including seven game-winners.
Schwindel, a senior and two-time NSCAA All-Central Region honoree, finished second behind Silva in 2013 with 11 goals and six assists for 28 points. Maloney, a junior, finished third with 16 points (6 G, 4 A).
In total, WVU returns four student-athletes that tallied double-digit point totals in 2013, including sophomore forward Ashley Lawrence and junior defender/midfielder Cari Price; the duo each finished with 12 points on four goals and four assists.
Junior forward Kailey Utley had a great spring with the Mountaineers and is expected to see more action this season. She owns six career points.
A Back Line Matures
Young just one season ago, the Mountaineer defense will be one of the most experienced units on the field in 2014.
WVU returns all four back-line starters: senior outside back Jess Crowder, junior outside back Leah Emaus and sophomore center backs Kadeisha Buchanan and Carly Black. The unit helped the Mountaineers post 10 shutouts in 2013, including four straight in postseason play, and hold opponents to just 24 goals.
New Face in Net
For the first time in three seasons, the Mountaineers will feature a new goalie in net, as the team looks to replace three-year starter Sara Keane.
Three contenders emerged this spring: senior Katie Osterman, junior-transfer Hannah Steadman and redshirt-freshman Michelle Newhouse.
Osterman saw her first career action in 2013, playing the final 14:53 in the team’s 4-1 win over Wright State. Steadman comes from Tennessee, where she saw time in three matches throughout her career, including 45 minutes between the posts in the team’s 4-1 loss to No. 16 Kentucky in 2013. She made three saves, the first of her career, in the defeat. Newhouse, a Pinch, West Virginia, native, was a 2012 NSCAA Girls High School All-American and the 2012 West Virginia Gatorade Player of the Year at Capital High.
Head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown returns to West Virginia University for her 19th season with the Mountaineers and her 20th season as a college coach. Named the program’s first head coach in 1995, she has led WVU to 14 straight NCAA appearances, the country’s ninth-longest streak, and won 11 conference titles with the Mountaineers. WVU has one six conference titles in the last four seasons.
Izzo-Brown has coached 14 student-athletes who went on to play professionally, 17 All-Americans, 12 Academic All-Americans and 14 conference players of the year.
To date, she owns an impressive 251-96-39 overall record at WVU and a 264-101-39 overall mark. Izzo-Brown earned her career 250th victory with a 4-0 win over Central Michigan on Aug. 30, 2013. She enters the 2014 season ranked in the top 20 among active NCAA Division I coaches with a .702 winning percentage and her career-wins mark ranks in the top 25. Additionally, she ranked No. 6 on All White Kit’s 2014 CoachRank, a data-driven, objective system of measuring coach performance over at least a three-year period.
Izzo-Brown has never had a losing season as head coach and has led the Mountaineers to 14 straight 10-plus win seasons.
The Mountaineers have defeated at least one top-10 team in each of the last nine seasons. Most recently, the squad scored a 4-3 win at No. 9 Baylor on Sept. 29, 2013. WVU is 11-10-2 against top-10 teams and 17-22-7 against all ranked opponents since 2005.
Wins vs. the Top 10
The Next 250
In just 18 seasons, the West Virginia University women’s soccer team has earned 251 program wins, an average of 14 victories per season.
The Mountaineers scored program win No. 250 with their 1-0 victory over Baylor at the 2013 Big 12 Soccer Championship semifinal on Nov. 8, in Kansas City, Missouri.
The Mountaineers have developed a true home field advantage, going 80-15-12 at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium since its opening in August 2004. Including a 4-0 showing in 2013, WVU has not dropped a conference match in Morgantown since losing, 3-2 in overtime, to then-No. 8 Notre Dame on Oct. 2, 2009.
A season-high 1,610 fans were in attendance for WVU’s thrilling NCAA Tournament first-round match against Rutgers in 2013, the fifth-best attendance in program history. There were 1,553 fans in attendance for WVU’s 2-1 win over Texas, the sixth-best mark in program history. Over the past five seasons, more than 52,000 fans have packed the stands to make Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium one of the toughest environments in the Big 12.
The 2014 WVU roster features four student-athletes who gained experience on the national level throughout the offseason.
Three Mountaineers were selected to represent Canada at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada: sophomores Kadeisha Buchanan (defender) and Ashley Lawrence (forward), and freshman Amandine Pierre-Louis (forward).
Buchanan, the 2013 Canadian U-20 Player of the Year, and Lawrence also gained experience with the Canadian Women’s National Team. Buchanan scored her first career international score, as she put a shot past the United States’ Hope Solo in a 1-1 draw against the USA on May 8.
Additionally, freshman defender Michaela Abam was named to the United States’ Under-18 Women’s National Team 20-player roster and trained in Mexico City with the squad from July 22-28.
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