Video Of Loss Spurs WVU Women’s Soccer
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – In so many ways, it should have been a wonderful cinematic experience, sort of like watching a festival of Academy Award winning films and performances, but for the ladies on the West Virginia women’s team it was more like a horror film festival.
We’re talking, of course, of the film of WVU’s loss to USC in the NCAA championship last year.
The Mountaineers had gone into that game as the nation’s No. 1 team, having lost only once all season and were after the first title in the history of women’s soccer at WVU.
But it didn’t happen, and it took them all a while before they actually could sit down and watch what had transpired that day.
“Spring was very hard,” admitted Alli Magaletta, a junior transfer from Missouri who got all she asked for and more by transferring. “We watched that game … um, multiple times. But the one thing we focused on was coming back in the summer, getting back fit, doing the little things right and then getting with the freshmen in the preseason and trying to get back where we were.
“We took it day by day. With the No. 1 ranking we will take it game by game.”
And that starts with the season opener against Georgetown today, a grudge game in which WVU hopes to put to use lessons learned in those two defeats last year … the one to the Hoyas and the one it watched so many times this spring.
Just what did the Mountaineers learn?
“You learn it’s really hard to lose,” Magaletta said. “I couldn’t watch it for like a couple of weeks, but once I did you kind of figure out what we can fix and what we can do to move forward.
“We looked back at everything we accomplished … beating Duke, beating UCLA. It was a great run that most people don’t get, so we took it as more of a positive aspect than a negative one.
“Yeah, watching it was tough, but now it’s beneficial because we know what it takes to win,” Magaletta concluded.
The question remains how WVU will react to coming so close, yet losing the final game, especially without its two top players and leaders, Kadeisha Buchanan and Ashley Lawrence, players good enough that in one year both won a bronze medal at the Olympics with Canada in addition to the second-place NCAA finish.
Buchanan and Lawrence were the heart and soul of last year’s team, but now they are looking to move forward with new personnel and leadership.
“Keisha and Ash brought a lot to practice,” Magaletta explained. “They brought a lot of new ideas. They brought a lot of leadership. Utilizing that will help with our leaders this year … every one of them has brought their own little personality.
“It will be good to focus on that and not just on certain individuals. We’ll be focusing as a team.”
Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown understands that this is a new year.
“It’s a different team,” Izzo-Brown said. “We will have different strengths. There will be areas we will have to do differently. With Keisha, we played a two back last year at times and could cover that ground effectively.”
Michaela Abam moves forward as the spotlight player this season. A senior from Houston, she ranks No. 8 all-time at WVU with 32 career goals, needing 21 to match the program record this year, and she is No. 9 in all-time points with 77, 48 shy of the record.
Abam comes into the year off a second-team All-America campaign last year.
“We want her to be consistent and a leader,” Izzo-Brown said. “She’s gotten herself into a really good place this year. She was really focused. She made sacrifices this summer so she’s ready to go.”
Starting against Georgetown is almost a perfect way to begin.
“We have a little bit of a grudge game with Georgetown because they are the only ones who beat us last year beside USC,” Magaletta said. “We are going to come out fired up. Never get beat twice, you know.
“This will be a good test, setting the tone for the season. I’m glad Georgetown is first. Get it out of the way and move on.”