The West Virginia University women’s captured its third Big 12 Soccer tournament championship on Sunday, in an overtime, comeback win 3-2 over TCU. With the victory, WVU capped off an unblemished conference season, winning all 11 games in Big 12 play. Now, the Mountaineers will enter the NCAA Women’s College Cup as a No. 1 seed.
The win also makes it 12 in a row for the Mountaineers (19-1-1, 8-0), but this was not without adversity. Just three minutes into the match, the Horned Frogs (16-6-2, 2-5-1) scored the first goal against WVU in conference play this season. The lead was doubled before halftime.
Facing the 2-0 deficit (the most goals the Mountaineers had conceded in a single game this season), WVU showed its resiliency and determination with two goals in the second half and then Ashley Lawrence scored the game winner a couple in overtime.
This team completed its third double (when a team wins both the regular season and tournament title) since joining the Big 12 in 2012.
Coach Nikki Izzo-Brown saw five players land on the All-Tournament Team. Lawrence was named Offensive Most Outstanding Player and her Canadian national teammate Kadeisha Buchanan earned the Defensive Most Outstanding Player honor. They were joined by Michaela Abam, Amandine Pierre-Louis and Sh’Nia Gordon on the All-Tournament Team.
Sadly, the shutout and clean sheet streaks were lost in this match. However, 10 matches without conceding a goal and 937 minutes total without seeing a ball in your own net is a tremendous accomplishment for WVU.
That said, the more outstanding feat is rising to overcome adversity when it slaps you in the face; that is what the Mountaineers did on Sunday.
Giving up an early goal can set the tone for a team during a match. Giving up your first goal in more than 10 matches could have been demoralizing. Even more, the team conceded late in the first half, walking to the locker down 0-2. This fact, however, did not deter the Mountaineers from claiming their prize.
Izzo-Brown’s squad responded strongly. Michaela Abam scored 14 minutes into the second half to pull a goal back. The Mountaineers continued to pressure TCU, out-shooting the Horned Frogs 20-4 in the second half. Finally, with two minutes before full time, WVU equalized on a goal by Kadeisha Buchanan.
From then, it almost felt inevitable that WVU would prove victorious. The team continued to pressure TCU’s goal to start the overtime period and six minutes, 34 seconds into the extra frame, WVU rewarded itself for all the hard work. Lawrence finished off a Hanna Abraham cross and the celebration commenced.
NCAA Tournament Time
The magical and historic season for WVU women’s soccer will continue in the coming weeks, as they will hope to navigate through the NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup. So far, the team has tied its highest win total in a season and achieved its first-ever No. 1 ranking.
Last season, WVU advanced to the Elite Eight before falling 5-2 to Penn State, eventual national champions. That was only the program’s second NCAA Elite Eight appearance, but Izzo-Brown and her team are poised to make that mark this season.
WVU was awarded a No. 1 seed for the 2016 NCAA Women’s Soccer College Cup (another program first) and is ranked No. 1 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com and NSCAA Coaches Poll. The Mountaineers will host Northern Kentucky at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium on Friday, November 11, in the first round of the tournament.
The Mountaineers did draw a tough quadrant, with potential matchups with Ohio State, UCLA, and Duke or Notre Dame in play.
It is time to go support the most successful sport program we currently have.