WVU Soccer Team Dominant In NCAA Opener
MORGANTOWN — The 2018 edition of the West Virginia University women’s soccer team doesn’t have that dominant, double-digit goal scorer.
But the sum of the parts that WVU head coach Nikki Izzo-Brown has assembled is really adding up, to six, in this case.
West Virginia cruised into the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, blanking the Radford Highlanders, 6-0, on goals for six different players, with four separate players getting assists and 14 taking shots.
“It’s not easy to scout us, because we come from different directions,” Izzo-Brown said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to lean on different people and have different ways to find the back of the net.”
WVU finished with 38 shots as a team, 17 on goal, and took 12 corner kicks.
West Virginia’s fourth shutout in as many games was also its 10th in 15 games in the NCAAs.
“It’s been an incredible journey of our back line and (goalkeeper) Rylee (Foster) and it’s also how we defend as a unit. Everybody is buying into our defensive mindset. Our midfield has been especially focused on that,” Izzo-Brown said.
“It was a tough day for us,” Radford coach Ben Sohrabi said. “I thought, early on, we battled and played hard. I thought the beginning of the second half, we were doing some good things, but some set pieces got the best of us late.”
Lauren Segalla opened scoring in the 10th minute for the Mountaineers, charging in to finish Nadya Gill’s cross first-time with her left foot.
Sh’Nia Gordon then became the first player in program history to score in four separate NCAA tournaments, volleying home a cross from Hannah Abraham in the 12th minute.
“I just know that, if I get a good ball in there with a lot of bend, someone’s going to be on the other end of it,” Abraham said. “I know Nia’s always crashing and is inside that box. She couldn’t have had a better finish.”
Radford, though, settled in and kept the margin at 2-0 at intermission while also taking its only two shots of the game, though neither forced a save from Foster.
“I thought we settled down a bit. Nerves were getting to us at the beginning of the game,” Sohrabi said. “We created some half-chances, here and there.”
The floodgates opened in the 59th minute when a push in the box gave Bianca St. Georges a penalty kick.
The senior finished for her seventh goal of the year.
West Virginia then used its head to double the lead.
Vanessa Flores’ free kick in the 78th minute was looped over the goalkeeper by Stefany Ferrer-van Ginkel’s head, then Patricia Fernandez and Grace Smith scored their first career goals in the 84th and 87th minutes, respectively, on headers from assists by Jordan Brewster.
Radford, the champions of the Big South, finish the year at 16-3-1.
“I’ve been leaning on seniors all year and it was just an incredible opportunity for a lot of the seniors to step up tonight,” Izzo-Brown said. “It wasn’t an easy game for us, but we were able to find the back of the net, and a lot of that is attributed to the focus and hard work of our seniors.”
West Virginia will host Wake Forest in the second round of the NCAA Tournament next Friday, time to be determined.
The WVU-Wake Forest winner will play the victor of Friday’s early game between Penn State and South Carolina next Sunday, also in Morgantown.
“We just really want to get far in this tournament,” Abraham said. “Whatever it takes.”