Entering her 17th season as the only coach in Mountaineer women’s soccer history, Nikki Izzo-Brown has built a one-time infant program into one of the nation’s elite.
In her previous 16 seasons, Izzo-Brown has coached 11 players who went on to play professionally, 14 All-Americans, 10 Academic All-Americans and 10 Big East Players of the Year. The Mountaineers enter the 2012 season having made an appearance in each of the last 12 NCAA tournaments, the country’s ninth-longest streak.
To date, Izzo-Brown has led the Mountaineers to an impressive 224-87-32 overall record and a 92-40-17 Big East mark that includes five regular season divisional titles and three tournament championships. Women’s soccer is the only WVU program to win multiple Big East tournament titles.
Izzo-Brown’s teams have been a consistent force in the national rankings, including a ranking of No. 7 in Soccer America’s final 2010 poll. West Virginia has defeated a Top 10 opponent in six of its last seven seasons.
Entering the 2012 season, she ranks 17th among active NCAA Division I coaches with a .701 winning percentage (includes one year at West Virginia Wesleyan). Izzo-Brown has never had a losing season as head coach and has led WVU to 12 straight 10-plus win seasons.
The past two seasons marked the end of an era as the Mountaineers won back-to-back Big East Championships before departing for membership in the Big 12 Conference. It also marked the third conference title in the last five seasons.
West Virginia finished the 2011 season with a 17-5-0 record, and a 10-1-0 mark in league play to win its division for the fifth time. The 10 wins marked a school record, making WVU one of only four Big East schools to ever win 10 league contests in a season.
The Mountaineers finished the season ranked No. 9 by Soccer America and won 15 of their last 17 matches to close the season. The 2010 season was a record-breaking one as the team won its second Big East Championship while advancing to the NCAA “Sweet 16.” WVU had its school record 14-match win streak end in the NCAA tournament against College Cup participant Boston College, giving the Mountaineers a final record of 18-5-1. The 18 victories tied the 2002 and 2007 teams for most wins in program history.
The 1,688 fans at the 2010 NCAA first round match against Morehead State marked the second-largest crowd at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium for a women’s soccer match.
WVU’s 1-0 win over fifth-ranked Virginia matched the highest ranked opponent defeated in school history, and the team’s 3-0 shutout against Georgetown marked the program’s 200th win.
West Virginia totaled 45 goals after scoring a program-low 22 in 2009, and its defense set the single-season record for shutouts at 14, while goalkeeper Kerri Butler also broke the school record for career shutouts - finishing with 44.
From 2005-09, the program reached new heights with consecutive NCAA appearances in every season and won its first Big East Championship. Izzo-Brown was named NSCAA/adidas and Soccer Buzz Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year in 2007 as WVU was ranked every week throughout the season and tied a school record for wins (18).
The 2007 squad advanced to the program’s first NCAA Elite Eight while establishing an attendance record with more than 3,000 fans for the NCAA Elite Eight contest with USC. Three players earned All-America status and six were named all-Big East. Forward Ashley Banks added to Izzo-Brown’s collection of major award winners as the 2007 Big East Offensive Player of the Year and a Hermann Trophy finalist.
WVU won Big East division titles in three straight seasons (2006-08) and at least one Mountaineer earned All-America honors from 2006-09. Carolyn Blank added the title of Big East Midfielder of the Year to her resume in 2008, a team that tied the school record for fewest losses in a season with three defeats.
Five seasons ago, Izzo-Brown took her high-powered offense to the 2006 NCAA tournament as WVU scored a school-record 55 goals in 21 games. Forward Deana Everrett had a breakout sophomore season to earn third team All-America honors from Soccer Buzz. The 2006 Mountaineers also displayed a stingy defense that shutout 13 opponents over the course of the season, including eight Big East foes.
Led by All-Americans Chrissie Abbott and Lisa Stoia, the 2003 Mountaineers made history, going 17-4-2 to give West Virginia its first NCAA “Sweet 16” appearance. The senior-led squad logged nine straight wins at one point during the season and had its first-ever Hermann Trophy nominee in Abbott, who graduated as WVU’s all-time leader in goals scored, points and shots, while Stoia established the school’s all-time assist record.
Izzo-Brown directed West Virginia to an 18-3-1 record, the most wins in school history, and the program’s first Big East division title in 2002. The Mountaineers also received their third-consecutive invitation to the NCAA tournament after putting together an 18-match unbeaten streak. Abbott was named Big East Offensive Player of the Year and a first team All-American, while Stoia earned Big East Midfielder of the Year honors. Izzo-Brown was named Big East and regional coach of the year.
A youthful Mountaineer squad played to a fifth straight 15-win season in 2004 and saw Izzo-Brown’s fourth All-American develop as forward Laura Kane earned the nod from the NSCAA after an eight-goal, nine-assist senior season.
West Virginia was nationally ranked for the first time in 2000, a regional coach of the year season for Izzo-Brown’s first-ever NCAA tournament team. Four team members landed spots on Big East all-conference teams, including Big East Offensive Player of the Year Katie Barnes and co-Big East Rookie of the Year Stoia. In that season, Barnes became WVU’s first All-American.
The Early Years
Izzo-Brown accepted perhaps her greatest challenge on Aug. 3, 1995, when then-WVU Director of Athletics Ed Pastilong named her the first head coach of West Virgia's women's soccer program.
In WVU’s inaugural season, Izzo-Brown led a young team to an amazing 10-7-2 record and a 4-4-1 Big East mark. WVU finished fifth in the conference, surprising Big East coaches, whose preseason prediction picked the fledgling Mountaineers to finish dead last.
Soccer Buzz ranked West Virginia as the eighth-best “new program” in the nation. In addition, Izzo-Brown's first season at WVU produced a Big East All-Rookie team member in defender Stacey Sollmann.
Only two years later, West Virginia made its first Big East tournament berth on a team that won 11 matches in 1998. Stacey Adams was the program’s first Big East Female Scholar Athlete of the Year winner and Sollmann earned second team all-region accolades.
Izzo-Brown led the Mountaineers to an 11-6-2 record in 1997, and two years later, they finished 9-9-1. With trust, hard work and sacrifice, the foundation had been laid for a breakout season in 2000.
Graduation is a must for Izzo-Brown-coached players who are asked to challenge themselves academically while at WVU. Her teams consistently hold one of the program’s highest GPAs on campus with its serious commitment to academics.
The women’s soccer team received public recognition in the spring of 2010 for the third year in a row by the NCAA for its latest multiyear Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. The team posted a multiyear APR in the top 10 percent of all squads in each sport. The APR accounts for eligibility, retention and graduation and provides a measure of each team's academic performance.
Izzo-Brown has coached 10 Academic All-Americans, and the NSCAA honored her team in the fall of 2011 with its 10th consecutive NSCAA Team Academic Award for its work in the classroom.
A total of 21 team members were named to the Garrett Ford Academic Honor Roll in 2011. And for the sixth straight season, at least one Mountaineer was named NSCAA scholar all-region.
Perhaps most impressive, at least one Mountaineer was named CoSIDA academic all-district in each of the past 11 seasons.
With tremendous experience and knowledge of the game, Izzo-Brown has built a reputation for getting the most out of her student-athletes. The veteran coach maximizes the performance of her players by providing opportunities to process information in multiple ways, in order to find success for each individual.
Paving the way for the success of recent Mountaineers, Katie Barnes was the first women’s soccer player to be named an All-American, and captured two straight Big East Offensive Player of the Year awards. In all, Izzo-Brown has guided 14 players to All-America status and 10 Big East player of the year honors.
Barnes was drafted with the first pick of the second round (ninth overall) of the 2002 Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) professional draft by the Carolina Courage. WVU was well represented in the WUSA and added to its professional player development with the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. Blank became the fifth Mountaineer to be drafted in 2010 when she was taken by the Saint Louis Athletica.
This past offseason, Izzo-Brown served as an assistant at U.S. Women’s National Team training camps with the U.S. U-18, U-20 and U-23 squads. In the summer of 2011, she joined April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer Technical Director, for a week of training as the U-20 team. She also spent time after the 2007 season as an assistant coach with the U-20 National Team under then-head coach Jill Ellis.
During her coaching tenure, more than a dozen Mountaineers have participated in the national team scene, with Barnes being selected to the team that won the 2001 Nordic Cup. Most recently, current defender Bry McCarthy made a full National Team appearance in 2012 and was just missed a roster spot for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Prior To WVU
As a player, Izzo-Brown attained All-America status at University of Rochester, where she was a four-year starter from 1989-92. During that span, Izzo-Brown helped the Yellowjackets to a 58-10-9 record and four straight NCAA tournament appearances. In 1991, as a junior, she led Rochester to a 16-4-2 mark and a spot in the NCAA championship game.
During her career at Rochester, Izzo-Brown also earned all-East, all-region and all-league honors, while meriting Dean's List recognition all four years. Following her senior campaign, she won the prestigious Merle Spurrier Award, which recognizes Rochester's top female athlete based on leadership, academics and athletics.
Izzo-Brown graduated from Rochester in the spring of 1993 with a degree in psychology. That fall, she was named assistant coach at West Virginia Wesleyan, where she continued her winning ways by helping the Bobcats to a 12-7 record. Izzo-Brown was elevated to head coach in 1994 and led Wesleyan to a 13-5 mark and a spot in the NAIA national tournament.
While coaching at the Buckhannon, W.Va., school, Izzo-Brown earned her master's of business administration degree in 1994.
In the fall of 2010, she was inducted into the University of Rochester Athletic Hall of Fame.
In addition to her duties at WVU, Izzo-Brown is certified as an advanced national level coach by the NSCAA, has her USSF “B” license and is a Region I senior staff Olympic Development member. She has served on several regional and national ranking committees for the NSCAA. She also is qualified internationally with Brazilian, KNVB and Czech Republic certification.
Izzo-Brown is involved with USA Soccer, serving as an assistant at U.S. Women’s National Team training camps with the U-18, U-20 and U-23 squads.
In May 2010, Izzo-Brown was named to the West Virginia Executive Sports Hall of Fame. Later that fall, she was inducted into the University of Rochester Athletic Hall of Fame for her outstanding achievement in the sport of soccer.
Last summer, she was named a 2011 Frontier Field Walk of Fame inductee.
She and her husband, Joe, have three daughters – Samantha, Gracie and Gabriella.
|Coach Izzo-Brown's Record|
|1994||West Virginia Wesleyan||13-5-0 (NAIA)|
|2000||West Virginia||15-6-0 (NCAA)|
|2001||West Virginia||15-5-1 (NCAA)|
|2002||West Virginia||18-3-1 (NCAA)|
|2003||West Virginia||17-4-2 (NCAA)|
|2004||West Virginia||15-6-0 (NCAA)|
|2005||West Virginia||12-6-3 (NCAA)|
|2006||West Virginia||14-4-3 (NCAA)|
|2007||West Virginia||18-5-2 (NCAA)|
|2008||West Virginia||14-3-6 (NCAA)|
|2009||West Virginia||10-7-6 (NCAA)|
|2010||West Virginia||18-5-1 (NCAA)|
|2011||West Virginia||17-5 (NCAA)|
|2012||West Virginia||11-5-4 (NCAA)|