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Big Weekend on Tap for Women’s Soccer

With an NCAA tournament second-round match on Friday and potential third round game on Sunday, the Mountaineers have a chance to prove themselves in front of home crowds.

Photo courtesy of West Virginia University

By now, I hope you are aware that the WVU women’s soccer team is competing as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Last Saturday, the Mountaineers (20-1-1) shook off Northern Kentucky 3-0 at home. WVU potentially has two more matches in front of the Mountaineer fans at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium this week.

On Friday, November 18, WVU hosts Ohio State in the second round of the 2016 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship at 6 p.m. ET, in Morgantown. The Buckeyes come into Morgantown after defeating Dayton 3-2 last weekend. Playing earlier on Friday will be No. 4 seed UCLA and Nebraska. The winners of both Friday matches will meet Sunday, November 20 at 2:30 p.m. All matches will be played at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown.

Ohio State Preview

In order to advance in the NCAA tournament, the Mountaineers will have to again defeat the Ohio State Buckeyes on Friday. The Buckeyes (11-6-3) finished the regular season ranked No. 24 but failed to qualify for the Big 10 Conference Women’s Soccer Tournament. Back in September, WVU knocked off Ohio State 2-1 in Morgantown.

In that match, Ohio State’s leading scorer, Lindsay Agnew, scored to tie the game in the second half. However, a goal by Hannah Abraham put the Mountaineers ahead. Agnew has 10 goals for the Buckeyes this season and also has 8 assists, making her the clear offensive threat on the team.

Ohio State has outscored their opponents 35-27 on the season, including 20-17 in their conference season. However, the Buckeyes have been shutout in six games this season, while recording six of their own. It’s been a little bit of a feast-or-famine season in Columbus.

UCLA and Nebraska Preview

If the Mountaineers defeat the Buckeyes on Friday, they will face the winner of the Friday’s 3 p.m. match between the UCLA Bruins and Nebraska Cornhuskers.

The Bruins (14-5-1) received a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament and defeated Seattle in the first round. UCLA finished fourth in the Pac 12 regular season and No. 18 in the NSCAA Coaches Poll. They are led by Jessie Fleming, a Canadian women’s national teammate of WVU’s Kadeisha Buchan and Ashley Lawrence. She scored 10 goals on the season. Teagan Micah, UCLA’s goalkeeper, has a 1.01 goals against average and made 82 saves on the season.

UCLA has the most history of any program in Morgantown this weekend. The Bruins have three runner-up finishes in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship and won it in 2013.

Current U.S. women’s national team manager, Jill Ellis, coached UCLA before assuming her current role and winning the 20165 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Former USWNT star Joy Fawcett was the head coach at UCLA from 1993-1997, bookended by her winning the 1991 and 1999 Women’s World Cups.

Nebraska comes into the second round after defeating South Dakota State 3-0 in a penalty shootout. The Cornhuskers (11-5-5) earned the sixth seed in the Big 10 Women’s Soccer Tournament but were bounced by Northwestern in the first round.

If West Virginia wins both matches this weekend, they will host the Elite Eight matchup on either November 25 or 26, by virtue of being the highest seed in the bracket. In the top half of the bracket, No. 2 seed Notre Dame was upset by Southern Illinois-Edwardsville. No. 3 seed Duke is still alive, who WVU defeated earlier this season.