No. 8 Mountaineers Find Offensive Spark in Win

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    Matt KellerMatt Keller
    Matt Keller

    No. 8 Mountaineers Find Offensive Spark in Win

    The No. 8-ranked West Virginia University women’s soccer team found its offensive spark this afternoon and cruised to a 5-1 victory over Oklahoma at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.

    Five different goal scorers factored into the Mountaineers’ (11-3, 4-1) season-high goal total, the best mark tallied against the Sooners (2-9-4, 0-2-3) in a conference match since a 5-2 loss to Missouri on Oct. 16, 2011.

    WVU last scored five or more goals against a Big 12 foe in a 6-0 victory over Kansas on Oct. 16, 2015, at DDSS.

    “It’s never easy doing that Friday-Sunday swing, and I’m proud of the way we came out against a very good Oklahoma team,” Mountaineer coach Nikki Izzo-Brown said. “Those Sunday match-ups are so difficult, but I was really proud of what we created around the goal and how we finished.

    “You look at Friday night’s game, and we’re hitting posts and the goalkeeper. Today, the girls took that extra effort and found the back of the net.”

    WVU now shows a 36-match unbeaten streak at home against conference opponents, the third-longest active streak in the nation. The Mountaineers have 19 straight home conference wins, the second-longest streak in Big 12 Conference history.

    WVU finished with a commanding 21-5 shot advantage and forced OU’s McKinley Crone into seven saves. The Mountaineers also finished with a 9-0 edge in corner kicks. The Sooners are the second Big 12 team and fifth opponent this season to not earn a corner kick against WVU.

    The Mountaineer defense denied OU a shot on-goal the first 79 minutes of the match. Freshman Kayla Thompson, in relief of sophomore Rylee Foster, made WVU’s lone save in the 80th minute.

    Senior forward Michaela Abam opened the goal-scoring onslaught in the 20th minute, connecting on her team-best fourth score of the season and first in Big 12 play. The Houston native received a cross from junior forward Sh’Nia Gordon wide of the six-yard box and immediately directed her shot toward the far-right post.

    The Mountaineers doubled their lead just 39 seconds later off a score from senior forward Heather Kaleiohi. Abam sent the cross this time, and the San Diego native headed it toward the goal line from six-yards out. The ball bounced off an OU defender and above the outstretched arms of Crone for Kaleiohi’s first game-winner of the season.

    Following today’s three-point effort, a season high, Abam now shows 88 career points and moves into a tie with Kate Schwindel (2011-14) for sixth-place in the Mountaineer record book. She continues to rank No. 5 all-time with 36 career goals.

    WVU’s third score of the match came off the foot of freshman forward Lauren Segalla in the 38th minute. Posted below the penalty line, Segalla corralled a deflected ball from junior forward Hannah Abraham, turned and swiftly placed her shot toward the far-left post for her second score of the season.

    The Mountaineers quickly added to their lead in the second half. Gordon pushed the ball down field, and senior midfielder Alli Magaletta met it at the end line. She immediately sent it back into Gordon, who pushed it toward the frame. Junior defender Bianca St. Georges redirected it past Crone at the right post for her second goal of the season.

    Gordon’s double-assist day is the first of her career. She now shows a team-best seven helpers on the season and needs two more to move onto the Mountaineers’ all-time season output list.

    A career-first goal capped the Mountaineers’ scoring this afternoon, as freshman midfielder Issy Coombes scored on a five-yard chip shot. Sophomore Jade Gentile was crucial in the buildup, as she placed two shots on-goal, the first saved by Crone and the rebound attempt stopped by defender Jordan Hobart. Coombes pounced on the second rebound and placed her shot toward the right post.

    “We know we’re fighting for a Big 12 Championship,” Izzo-Brown added. “This group understands what is at stake and knows we needed those points. I credit the senior leadership and the captains in setting the tone.”

    OU’s score game in the 88th minute, as forward Kyle Escobedo settled a ball near the top of the box before directing her shot toward the right post.

    Abam and OU’s Kaylee Dao each finished with a game-high three shots. All three of Abam’s attempts were on-goal.

    Magaletta nearly had her own three-point day, as she connected on the team’s third corner kick of the match in the 31st minute, but her header was caught by Crone at the right post.

    Including today’s defensive effort, WVU has now held its last three Big 12 opponents to seven shots or less. Only Texas has placed more than three shots on-goal against the Mountaineer backline.

    With today’s win, WVU improves to 7-0-1 all-time against the Sooners and 39-2-3 in Big 12 play.

    The Mountaineers continue their homestand on Friday, Oct. 13, against Iowa State, with first kick from Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium set for 7 p.m. Fans who wear their Halloween costumes to the game will be admitted for free.

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