MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The No. 10-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team opens its 2014 season at the Penn State Invitational, Aug. 22-24, at Jeffrey Field, in University Park, Pennsylvania.
The Mountaineers face host and No. 11-ranked Penn State on Friday, Aug. 22, with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m. WVU meets Missouri on Sunday at noon.
“This team has been very focused and determined throughout this preseason to ensure it can be successful Friday at Penn State,” said 19-year Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown. “The energy and the excitement that is behind this season opener is palpable.”
WVU, the two-time defending Big 12 Conference regular-season champions and 2013 conference tournament champions, opens its season at PSU for the second straight year. Friday is the third season-opening contest between the squads since 2010, with the Nittany Lions owning a 1-0-1 mark. The teams battled to a 2-2 double-overtime draw at Jeffrey Field in 2013, the first tie in the 11-match series, which stands at 5-5-1. The Mountaineers are 8-8-2 all-time in season openers.
“Friday night is going to be a battle – these are two successful teams, and each is going to put an unbelievable amount of pressure on the other,” Izzo-Brown said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how we match up with so much at stake early in the season.”
Sunday’s meeting is the first-ever between the Mountaineers and the Tigers. Both programs are entering their 19th season.
The Mountaineers return to the field following a 2013 campaign that saw them qualify for their 14th straight NCAA Tournament, the nation’s ninth-longest active streak. Unanimously chosen by the conference’s coaches as the Big 12’s preseason favorite, WVU boasts three Preseason All-Big 12 Team members: senior forward Kate Schwindel
, sophomore forward Ashley Lawrence
and sophomore defender Kadeisha Buchanan
. A Brampton, Ontario, native, Buchanan has collected several preseason honors, including a spot on the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy Watch List and the Soccer America Preseason All-America Team, announced late last night.
Despite the loss of All-America forward Frances Silva, the Mountaineers return 68 percent of their goal scoring from 2013, including Schwindel and junior forward Kelsie Maloney
, who combined for 17 goals last season, including seven game-winners. Schwindel, a Livingston, New Jersey, native, is the team’s top returning point earner, compiling 28 points (11 G, 6 A) in 18 matches. Maloney finished third in 2013 with 16 points (6 G, 4 A), while Lawrence and junior defender/midfielder Cari Price
each tallied 12 points (4 G, 4 A).
In addition to Buchanan, the 2013 Big 12 Defender and Newcomer of the Year, WVU’s backline also returns senior Jess Crowder
, junior Leah Emaus
and sophomore Carly Black
. Also back is two-year starting defensive midfielder, junior Amanda Hill
Following a tight battle throughout the 2014 spring season and preseason camp, junior transfer Hannah Steadman
has earned the starting goalkeeper nod. Steadman saw time in three matches at Tennessee (2011-13), including 45 minutes between the posts in the team’s 4-1 loss to No. 16 Kentucky in 2013.
In addition to Steadman, six freshmen join the Mountaineers this season: midfielder/defender Michaela Abam
, forwards Toryn Broadwater
and Heather Kaleiohi
, midfielders Kelly LaPorte
and Carla Portillo
and forward/midfielder Macy Stalnaker
. Abam, a Houston native, was invited to the United States’ Under-18 Women’s National Team 20-player roster this past July and was named to TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Preseason Best XI Freshmen Team.
The Nittany Lions made their 19th straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament in 2013 and finished the year with a 15-7-1 mark. The squad, winners of 16 Big Ten titles, was picked to win the 2014 conference regular-season title, with forwards Mallory Weber and Raquel Rodriguez, and midfielder Emily Hurd, named Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch. Rodriguez led PSU in 2013 with nine assists, the NCAA’s 41st-best total. Additionally, senior defender Whitney Church was named to the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Watch List.
Missouri is coming off a 2013 season that saw the Tigers go 8-9-3. Tabbed to finish 10th in the 2014 Southeastern Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll, the Tigers feature three named to the SEC Coaches’ Preseason Watch List: midfielders Kaysie Clark and Melanie Donaldson, and defender Candace Johnson.